Offshore melon industry veteran Lou Kertesz Jr. has joined Ayco Farms Inc. to lead its cantaloupe program.

The former Fresh Quest vice president ended his tenure at the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based company he helped found on June 30 as part of a company downsizing, Kertesz said.

Melon industry vet Lou Kertesz joins AycoHe started working at Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Ayco as melon category manager in mid-September.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Kertesz said. “I’m watching this company grow very rapidly and is the perfect time to be growing.

“This moment wasn’t on my Top 10 list, but it will be a positive thing,” he said. “For every bad thing, there’s a good thing.”

While Ayco is growing, Fresh Quest has downsized, Kertesz said.

“There are some good people there (Fresh Quest), and I wish them the best,” he said.

Melon industry vet Lou Kertesz joins AycoAlan Guttmann, Fresh Quest’s president, declined comment on Kertesz’s departure.

Peter Warren, Ayco’s marketing and sales director, said Kertesz’s addition is one of the biggest stories of the year for the offshore melon industry.

“It’s funny how destiny brought Lou and Ayco together,” Warren said. “They have been competing for over 10 years. All the sudden he becomes available. Ayco is taking this tremendous growth path.

“We’re very happy to have him come on as our melon quarterback,” Warren said.

Melon industry vet Lou Kertesz joins AycoIn a news release, Ayco announced the hiring of two other industry veterans to help expand sales.

Mike Dickman, who worked 25 years in value-added and branding and was western division sales manager for San Antonio-based NatureSweet Tomatoes, is category manager for greenhouse peppers.

Jason Miller, who joined as salesman, worked as a broker and importer for All American Farms Inc., Boynton Beach, Fla.