(Aug. 8) DALLAS — Rosalie Budnoff, president of regional fresh-cut processor Bud’s Salads Inc., has relinquished her role at the company in a plan designed to avoid possible bankruptcy.

In February, Red Book Credit Services, a division of Vance Publishing Corp., Lincolnshire, Ill., which also owns The Packer, rescinded Bud’s Salads character award and downgraded its rating to reflect reports of past due invoices and slow pay.

Golman-Hayden Co. Inc., Dallas, was the fresh-cut company’s largest creditor, and Jack Rohde, president of the brokerage, orchestrated a capital stock buyout plan that is contingent on a financial turnaround. Other partners in the agreement are Rudy Velasco, general manager of Bud’s Salads, and Doug Clark and Donn Herreman, president and vice president of Cargo Master Inc.

“It’s more or less of a management arrangement,” Rohde said. “It will develop into something of an ownership eventually, but our goal is to make the company profitable and cover its debt.”

Clark and Herreman are stockholders in Rohde’s company and vice versa, Rohde said. Cargo Master and Golman-Hayden operate from the same offices.

NAME ON DOCUMENTS

Budnoff’s name still remains on financial documents, and she is liable for the company’s debts, but she hasn’t been involved in managing the company since April, Rohde said. Former vice president Eric Meyler is no longer associated with Bud’s Salads. Once the debt is cleared — Rohde estimates it will take 3 years — Budnoff will no longer be associated with the company.

Rohde said the financial problems stem from a clerical worker’s alleged embezzlement of at least $750,000 from the company. He referred questions about the allegations to Budnoff, who was unavailable for comment.

Senior Corporal Diana Watts, Dallas Police Department public information officer, said she could find no report of embezzlement at the company.

ALMOST ALL ACCOUNTS PAID

Rohde didn’t release a figure on the company’s debt, but said almost all accounts are paid in full, the main exception being Golman-Hayden’s account.

Bud’s Salads added bagging equipment in January and a $130,000 lettuce spin dryer in July, and capital expenditures remain the largest expense.

“We’re paying the bills,” Rohde said. “We’re almost current with everybody.”

In past years, company officials have touted strong sales growth, and Rohde said the recent financial setbacks will be temporary.

REMAINING INDEPENDENT

Rohde stressed that Bud’s Salads and Golman-Hayden will remain independent of each other, and there are no plans to change suppliers to the fresh-cut company. Although Golman-Hayden has supplied some items to Bud’s Salads in the past and will continue the relationship, Rohde said the company will rely on a variety of Dallas-area suppliers.

Supplier diversification is critical, he said, referring to skyrocketing lettuce prices this past winter.

“There are people that are far better at doing certain things than we are,” Rohde said.

Bud’s Salads primarily serves foodservice customers.

In April, Rohde’s daughter, Jennifer Herring, joined Bud’s Salads as sales manager. Joanne Ventura and Christie Taylor are new customer service representatives.

Rosalie Budnoff’s husband, Irv Budnoff, started the company in 1978. She took over when he died.