(Aug. 11) As it continues its quest to find a new chief executive and replace its largest citrus supplier, Sunkist Growers Inc. is realigning some of its senior management.

The Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based citrus cooperative, looking to refine its marketing focus, has placed longtime executive Russ Hanlin in a newly created slot of senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Hanlin, who has been with Sunkist 28 years, most recently as vice president of sales operations and international sales, will oversee the sales and marketing functions for fresh fruit and licensed products as well as Sunkist’s global sourcing program and fresh-cut joint venture with Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms.

In addition to increasing program coordination, the alignment also will complement the way in which Sunkist products, fresh and licensed, are presented, thus enhancing the value of the Sunkist brand, said Timothy Lindgren, who has served as the co-op’s interim president and chief executive officer since April.

Sunkist made other management changes, as well.

John McGuigan, a 23-year Sunkist veteran, has moved from vice president of domestic sales to a new position of vice president of fresh fruit sales. In his new role, McGuigan will lead Sunkist’s developing export markets, primarily in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Mike Wootton, as the company’s new senior vice president of corporate relations and administration, has taken on oversight of research and technical services to his previous roles in corporate communications and grower relations.

The company’s other executives retained their established roles:

  • Robert Verloop, vice president of marketing;

  • Greg Combs, vice president of global licensing;

  • Richard French, vice president and chief financial officer;

  • Tom Moore, vice president of law and general counsel; and

  • Frank Bragg, director of the citrus juice and oil business unit.

The changes create a more coordinated approach to management, Lindgren said.

“It was difficult to focus the marketing and sales effort on a coordinated basis to get all this together,” he said. “My feeling was that by putting marketing into that group, along with all these other ventures, they can work as a unit and tie together all these things and move ahead in a coordinated manner.”

Meanwhile, Sunkist is making progress on its search for a permanent CEO, Lindgren said.

“We’re pretty far into the process. I just don’t know whether it’s a matter of a couple of weeks or a couple of months,” said Lindgren, who took over on an interim basis for Jeff Gargiulo, who resigned in January.

Lindgren, who in February 2004 retired as CEO of Woodlake, Calif.-based Fruit Growers Supply Co., a manufacturing and supply affiliate of Sunkist, said he was not a candidate for the job. He declined to say how many candidates were left, but he did say several under consideration were currently with Sunkist.

“We’re quite satisfied with the field of candidates that stepped forward,” he said.