Progressive Produce invited industry leaders, strategic partners, employees and families to join it in an anniversary party half a century in the making late last month. Guests of honor were Progressive Produce Co-founder Nace Cohen and family as well as the family of Co-founder Charles Gilb, who joined a group of well-wishers for a cocktails and dinner at the Hyatt Regency Resort in Huntington Beach, California.
Guests were treated to the premier of a video history of Progressive. The film featured archival photos and interviews with executives and associates, and it detailed the story of Progressive’s rise from its inception in 1967.
As Gilb put it, the company “started with a sales staff of one, an office staff of one, and a fleet consisting of one truck.” But Progressive says its management has always pursued any innovation that would make its strategic partnerships more and more successful—with growers and with customers.
Highpoints in the company’s history include the original founders’ sale to Chiquita Brands in 1988; the arrival of Jim Leimkuhler in 1996; the formation of a “winning executive team” with Jack Gyben, Victor Rodarte and Larry Holder; and the eventual buyback of the company from Chiquita in 2003. More recently, Total Produce, a European company based in Dublin, Ireland, acquired a 65 percent interest in Progressive in February 2016. And earlier this year, Progressive merged with its longtime partner Keystone Fruit Marketing of Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
Over its 50-year history, Progressive has grown its offerings to include the Olé Pacifica brand, with more than 100 SKUs, as well as the Nature’s Bounty Organic, Pacific Gold, MicroBaker and Hollywood Fries brands. The company attributes much of its growth to the Americas Asparagus brand, sold throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Now that the celebration is over, Progressive says it is looking forward to “a future filled with more success, more innovation and ever-growing opportunities for their fantastic employee team.”