(UPDATED COVERAGE, Nov. 23) Pandol Bros. chief executive officer David Dever is leaving the California grape grower to succeed Al Vangelos at Sun World International LLC, who’s retiring after heading the company since 2008.

Dever remains at Delano, Calif.-based Pandol Bros. through late December or early January, said John Pandol, director of special projects. He plans to begin duties at Sun World, Bakersfield, Calif., on Jan. 16. Vangelos will stay on through then.

Dever has helmed Pandol Bros. since 2007, following Jack Breech, the company’s first non-family chief executive officer. Previously, he was executive vice president and chief financial officer for Ballantine Produce Co. Inc., Sanger, Calif.

Vangelos called Dever a solid choice to lead Sun World.

“He’s stepping into a company that has a great reputation in the industry and has really moved ahead in terms of innovation,” Vangelos said. “It’s a good company on the verge of becoming a great company. I’ve known Dave for a while, and he can take it to that next level.”

As Vangelos sees it, the next level would be brand recognition for Sun World proprietary varieties such as the Scarlotta red seedless grape.

“Where others are selling commodities, our varieties can be a brand recognized by retailers and consumers,” he said. “Given the trade acceptance of Sun World, we are in a position to communicate that the Scarlotta and other products are unique.”

Pandol Bros. has yet to determine when – or if – it will name a successor to Dever.
“We haven’t made the decision yet whether we’re going to replace him, realign functions or name an interim CEO,” Pandol said Nov. 22. “Do we need to replace him per se, or divvy up the tasks in some other fashion? We’re going to look at it with a fresh mind. He’s still very much here, and we probably don’t need to decide until the last week of December or first week of January.”

Vangelos, who will remain on the Sun World board, said his departure as CEO marks a second retirement. After serving a decade as Calavo Growers’ chief executive officer, he kept active in ventures including a board chairmanship at Vancouver-based BC Hot House Foods, and as principal at Novelle Consulting LLC, Laguna Beach, Calif. He joined Sun World’s board in 2006, and was tapped as CEO two years later.

“I never got rid of my Laguna Beach office,” Vangelos said. “I’ll get involved in consulting again. But at this point in my life I decided it was time to reacquaint myself with my wife and family. For the last three years I’ve been leaving for work Sunday and coming back Friday.”
Dever welcomed the opportunity at Sun World.

“I am excited to join the Sun World family,” he said in a news release. “Sun World’s international reputation for quality products backed by a well-qualified and innovative team provides a great foundation from which to build. I look forward to working with such a talented and dedicated group of people.”

Pandol credited Dever with restructuring the company’s ownership, saying that Dever aligned product resources and strategic objectives. Dever also restructured Pandol Bros. customer base and developed new profit centers related to the company’s supply chain, which enabled the firm to diversify.

Dever’s efforts for Pandol Bros. also included improving operations of post-harvest functions. The grower-packer also has import and export operations, shipping table grapes and other specialty fruit.

Coral Beach and Doug Ohlemeier contributed to this report.