(June 19) OVIEDO, Fla. — A. Duda & Sons Inc. has begun transition to the next generation of management and fresh fruit expansion with the appointment of Joseph A. Duda as president of the corporation.

Duda, 61, succeedshis brother, Ferdinand S. Duda, 63, who will retain his title of chief executive officer. The appointment is effective July 1.

Joseph Duda’s primary task will be organizing a smooth transition into the fourth generation of family management in the next four to five years.

In addition to restructuring the management of the corporation, Duda hopes to expand fresh fruit sales and make the company more market driven.

“We need to bring fresh fruit in line with vegetables,” Joseph Duda said. “We’re working hard to get a 12-month supply here in Florida, California and globally, which will have us a little more unique than most shippers.

“We’re pretty well established, but we need to expand due to all of the consolidation at the retail level. We’ve got to become more market driven and we’re in the midst of trying to develop those plans right now.”

The company is broadening its line of oranges and specialty fruit, primarily for its export program to Japan, with valencia and navel oranges from California, as well as South Africa and Spain, he said.

Joseph Duda serves as executive vice president of the corporation, responsible for cattle, citrus, sod, real estate, planning and human resources. He also serves as CEO of Duda’s real estate division, The Viera Co.

“We’re in the midst of moving from the third generation to the next generation, and he is the youngest of the brothers,” said Ferdinand Duda. “He was the logical choice to follow after me. He is the family member most capable to make this transition and handle this task. He’s got the background.”

Joseph Duda joined the corporation in 1965 as a working supervisor for cattle operations in LaBelle. Thirteen years later he was named executive vice president of the cattle division. He later supervised the company’s real estate and land development division and was appointed president of The Viera Co. in 1990. He was named CEO of the division in 1995.

“I’m probably very fortunate to be in the position I’m in right now,” Joseph Duda said. “My focus will be on some key things we’ve got to do.”

He said he expects the transition to go smoothly.

“We have an outstanding group of fourth-generation people ready to go, ages 45 down to just out of college. They’re already in charge of a large segment of the operation,” he said. “We just need to let them see more of what their colleagues are doing in other divisions.”

Joseph Duda said the corporation’s 10-member board of directors will likely change because of retirements but the structure will remain the same. The board consists of four nonfamily members and six members of the Duda family.

“We want to maintain that structure,” he said. “We might even consider going to nine members, but we’ll probably stay at 10. We need the outside (nonfamily) influence. They keep you straight on some things the family members may not see.”

Duda was founded in 1926 by Andrew Duda and his three sons. The company has agricultural operations in Florida, Texas and California, comprising fresh and processed vegetables and citrus, sod, sugar cane and cattle.

Sales in 2002 for all Duda’s divisions were $370 million, said Susan Howard, director of corporate communications.

The Viera Co. is the developer of the master-planned community of Viera in Brevard County, Fla.