By Doug Ohlemeier, The Packer

A large Florida agribusiness and citrus and vegetable growing operation plans to elevate its president and chief operating officer to chief executive officer.

Dan Gunter, president and COO of LaBelle, Fla.-based Alico Inc., is scheduled to become CEO in June after Jan. 18 action by Alico's board of directors.

Gunter, a former executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, joined Alico in 2006. The firm owns citrus and vegetable land and has cattle and sugarcane operations in its 135,000 acres in south and central Florida.

John Alexander, Alico's CEO and chairman of the board, said the timing was right to promote Gunter to the top position. Alexander said he plans to remain as Alico's chairman of the board.

"He's (Gunter) a team player, a team builder and is just a joy to work with," Alexander said. "He's really a pro in the world of business plans and management."

Gunter led the citrus agency twice. He worked there from 1986-92 and returned in 2004 after a stint in private industry.

Alico, which packs and markets its citrus through Ben Hill Griffin Inc., Frostproof, Fla., ships 5% of its 11,000 citrus acres to fresh channels.

The company's 2,400 acres of green beans and sweet corn, grown in the Devil's Garden region northeast of Immokalee, Fla., is marketed through Immokalee and Belle Glade, Fla., shippers.

Alico, which had long leased its lands to growers, entered into its own vegetable production in 2005, Alexander said.

In October, Alico partnered with J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, Fla., allowing J&J to grow bell pepper, cucumbers, squash and eggplant on 1,000 of Alico's Devil's Garden area acres.