After more than four decades working with the produce industry, Chris Nelson, president and CEO of Mixtec Group, is retiring.

Effective June 30, Jerry Butt will be the new president and CEO of the Glendale, Calif., executive search firm, according to a news release. Nelson will continue to have an active role at Mixtec Group as a strategic advisor, according to the release.

“We have been working on a succession plan for some time,” Nelson said in the release. “I can’t think of a better time to step back. Mixtec Group celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and is enjoying its best years ever. It’s great to leave on such a high note.”

Having Butt and Mixtec executive vice president Kristen Reid as equity partners has resulted in two consecutive record years, Nelson said in the release. “Jerry is a natural to lead Mixtec going forward.”

Nelson served in the top position at Mixtec for 15 years, shifting the company’s recruiting focus exclusively to the fresh produce industry, Mixtec founder Ward Nelson retires from top post at Mixtec GroupFredericks said in the release.

“Chris transformed our business,” Fredericks said in the release. “His extensive relationships in the produce industry provided us opportunities for tremendous growth. Mixtec is the industry leader today as a direct result of Chris’ vision and influence.”

Before joining Mixtec, Nelson worked for Ready Pac for eight years as chief operations officer and executive vice president. During that time annual sales grew from $40 million to $240 million, according to the release.

“Chris led Ready Pac during one of the most exciting times in our history,” Ready Pac founder Dennis Gertmenian said in the release. “He helped put us on the map as a national player.

Earlier in his career Nelson was president of Overhill Farms and vice president of S&W Fine Foods, according to the release. His father Ted Nelson founded Royal Packing Co., a California lettuce grower-shipper.

Nelson has served on numerous boards including the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Passport Food Group, Produce for Better Health Foundation, Fresh Produce & Floral Council and the International Fresh-cut Produce Association.

“I’ve known Chris for many years and have learned much from him, both as a pioneering marketer of fresh-cut produce and as an executive recruiter bringing the finest talent to leading companies in our industry,” Produce Marketing Association CEO Bryan Silbermann said in the release.

“He’s also helped PMA to recruit the best and the brightest executive team we needed to serve our members. That expertise has propelled a lot of our growth in the past decade.”