(Oct. 13) PAHOKEE, Fla. — Hugh H. Branch has sold his namesake company, one of the world’s largest fresh sweet corn shippers, to his son and a pair of long-time company salesmen.

Hugh “Chip” Branch Jr., Branch’s packinghouse and precooler manager, and salesmen Brett Bergmann and Dan Shiver, completed their purchase of the company in June.

Company officials declined to state details of the transaction. Owner Hugh H. Branch Sr. formally retired in January. The new owners made the announcement in early October.

“It was a natural progression,” Bergmann said.

As the 82-year-old Hugh H. Branch started to lessen his involvement with the company he co-founded in 1957, he transferred the workload to the company’s main salesmen, Bergmann said.

“They’ve been doing most of the work during the past two to three years anyway,” Hugh H. Branch Sr. said. “They’re all highly qualified and are truly professional sales people.”

Shiver has worked in sales for the growers’ agent, handler and shipper of sweet corn and green beans since 1985, and Bergmann started in sales for Branch in 1993.

The new ownership will also help Branch’s growers and customers, said Shiver, who has been married 28 years to Tammy Branch, Hugh Branch Sr.’s daughter. Tammy Branch is not involved in the business.

“It gives our growers some continuity of ownership and management,” Shiver said. “It bodes well for the future. They (the growers) can continue on with assurance that this business will remain viable.”

Branch founded the company, which packs and markets sweet corn year-round from four states, with his brother Julian, who died in 1997.

Bergmann said the company intends to stay ahead of the changes occurring in the sweet corn industry. He pointed to Branch’s new value-added offering of cleaned and ready-to-eat microwaveable tray corn packs the firm introduced in May.