(Oct. 3) IRVINE, Calif. — Western Growers Association is losing a long-time executive to retirement this year and planning to restructure its insurance and association departments under one leader.

After more than 30 years of service to Western Growers Association, Don Dressler is stepping down at the end of the year.

Dressler, president of Western Growers Insurance Services, plans to start his retirement Jan. 1, 2003. He will remain connected to WGA as a consultant.

Until he does so, he will share his duties with Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of WGA. Through Dec. 31, Nassif and Dressler will be co-presidents and co-chief executive officers of the insurance and association departments of Western Growers.

“This will ensure a smooth and stable transition as Don moves into retirement,” said A.G. Kawamura, chairman of the board of WGA.

Beginning in 2003, WGA will merge its association and insurance activities under Nassif, who will then assume responsibility for all Western Growers programs staff and activities, Kawamura said.

Kawamura said WGA and the fresh produce industry owes Dressler heartfelt thanks for his years of service to the industry.

Dressler has served on several industry association boards. He was chairman of the board of directors for the Produce for Better Health Foundation for 2001-02 and served on its executive committee for four years.

“Don will be missed at Western Growers, but we wish him extremely well as he embarks into the next phase of his incredibly productive life,” Nassif said in a news release.

Tom Deardorff, chairman of Western Growers Assurance Trust, Western Growers’ health insurance plan, said Dressler helped manage and grow both WGA and Western Growers Insurance Services. During Dressler’s tenure, association and insurance service staff went from four to more than 300 employees and membership increased from 700 to 3,500.

Deardorff said that while Dressler would be missed, WGA would continue to serve its customers and members well.