(Nov. 21) Andy Grant was looking for a general manager for Grant Family Farms, Wellington, Colo., when Rick Stauffer called to say he had left his job at Four Seasons Produce Inc., Ephrata, Pa.

“For us to get a guy of Rick’s caliber to help us move forward, we’re thrilled about it,” said Grant, president and owner of the 2,600-acre organic operation that produces more than 80 items. “The timing was just perfect. I was going to spend the winter trying to find that person. He was right under my nose.”

Grant, an occasional supplier for Four Seasons, has known Stauffer for more than eight years. He created Stauffer’s role to take over some of his duties.

“He has a lifelong history of organizing and administering people and systems,” Grant said. “He knows how business runs. He has tremendous experience in the produce industry, which will bolster our business. We’re looking for Rick’s leadership to advance us and improve us in the produce industry. We want to continue to improve our pack, service and distribution.”

Stauffer, 45, spent 13 years at Four Seasons, including four as chief operating officer. He stepped down from that role in March, citing philosophical differences with president and chief executive officer Ron Carkoski.

Stauffer stayed on as director of buying and sales before leaving Sept. 23.

“They were taking a much more corporate stance, bringing in people who were nonindustry professionals,” said Stauffer, who said he remained friends with Carkoski but disagreed with the direction of the company.

Stauffer said that during his time at Four Seasons, the company’s sales grew from $16 million in 1992 to a projected $200 million this year. Organics account for 20% of Four Seasons’ business, he said.

Stauffer’s first day was Nov. 16. He planned to work on East Coast marketing before moving to Colorado in December.