(Feb. 5) ANAHEIM, Calif. — The past year was one of growth and expansion for the La Mirada-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council, and Raul Gallegos, the council’s new chairman, hopes to continue that trend.

Gallegos and other members of the 2007 leadership team were formally introduced Jan. 27 at the council’s annual dinner dance at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel.

Members also welcomed chairwoman-elect Liane Temple, floral director for Stater Bros. Markets, Colton; treasurer Ken Ewalt, vice president of retail specialties at Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale; and immediate past chairman Jack Gyben, vice president and partner in Progressive Marketing Group, Los Angeles. Past chairman representatives and incoming directors also were greeted.

Finding someone with a more extensive produce background than Gallegos’ might be difficult. He was born into the retail business to parents who owned a neighborhood market and later a produce store.

After working at his parents’ store, he joined the old Alpha Beta chain as a box boy in 1972 and was promoted to assistant store director and customer service manager.

He left the company in 1982 to apply his retail skills at the new produce store his parents opened.

He took a part-time job as produce clerk at Carson-based Bristol Farms in 1995 and worked his way up to his current position — senior director of produce and floral.

Bristol Farms was already a member of the council, and Gallegos became involved with the organization on a personal level in 1999.

The council, with more than 700 members, had its first Northern California golf tournament, added a dinner event in Phoenix and is planning its first Northern California Expo for March 7. More than 120 exhibit spots have been claimed, council president Linda Stine said.

Gyben didn’t claim credit for the council’s successes in 2006.

The council has such a strong staff and board of directors and such commitment by its members “that sometimes it seems that things keep getting better without a lot of effort,” he said.