Gulf Citrus Growers Elect Leaders, Officers

Gary Cooper Citrus, Florida, General

At its 22nd annual meeting on June 4, 2008 at the Dallas Townsend Agricultural Center in LaBelle, FL, the Gulf Citrus Growers Association elected its officers to serve the organization during the 2008-2009 season. Elected to lead the association are the following: President: David Wheeler, Wheeler Farms, Inc.; Vice President: Carey Soud, Soud Family Partnership; Secretary: Wade Timpner, George Austin, Inc.; Treasurer: Callie Walker, English Brothers.

Wheeler, a 1986 graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Agriculture with a degree in Food and Resource Economics, was re-elected to a fourth consecutive term as president. He began his citrus business career as an owner/operator of a gift fruit operation in Lake Placid. He joined the family’s citrus business in 1990 as a grove manager for Wheeler Farms, Inc., a company owning groves in Southwest Florida, the “Ridge” of Highlands and Polk counties and on the east coast of the state. He is now president of Wheeler Farms, Inc.

In addition to his leadership in “Gulf Citrus”, Wheeler currently serves on the Florida Citrus Commission, representing citrus growers in District 4. He is past president of the Florida Production Managers’ Association and a director of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association in Central Florida. Wheeler is a graduate of the Wedgeworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources administered through the University of Florida/IFAS.

He spent his formative years in Central Florida, graduating from Winter Haven High School and Polk Community College. He is married (wife Anne Marie) and has three children (David, Jr., Laura and Anna Grace). He is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Placid.

Carey Soud, elected as GCGA vice president, has served on the association’s board for two separate terms, and has over 18 years of professional management experience in the industry here in Southwest Florida. In addition, he is a partner in the family’s citrus operations. He served as a District Vice President, treasurer and director for Florida Citrus Mutual, representing the citrus growers in the region. Soud earned a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Florida, and has recently been promoted to President of First Bank, based in Clewiston, FL.

At the annual meeting this week Gulf Citrus Growers Association also elected its 2008-2009 board of directors for the coming season. The newly elected leadership will direct the organization as it works to represent the citrus growing industry in Southwest Florida’s “Gulf” region which includes Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties.

Elected to serve one-year terms are the following directors:

Charlotte County
Emmett Evans III, Evans Properties, Inc.

Collier County
John Hoffman, Barron Collier Partnership

Paul Meador, Gulf Citrus Partners L.P.

Mike Murphy, Cooperative Producers, Inc.

Glades County
David Wheeler, Wheeler Farms, Inc.

Hendry County
Mark Colbert, Duda Products, Inc.

Joe Hilliard II, Hilliard Brothers, Inc.

Wayne Simmons, LaBelle Fruit Co. LLC

Steve Smith, Alico, Inc.

Carey Soud, Soud Family Partnership

Lee County
Wade Timpner, George Austin, Inc.

At-Large Seats
Don Barwick, Heller Bros. Packing Corp.

Callie Walker, English Brothers

The Gulf Citrus Growers Association represents citrus growers in Florida’s “Gulf” production region including Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. The region accounts for over 25% of the state’s total citrus production.