Ocean Spray Elects New Board

LAKEVILLE, Mass. (March 8, 2003) – Based on preliminary results of voting by Ocean Spray’s grower-owners today, it appears that a new Board of Directors has been elected to set the strategic course for the cranberry and grapefruit cooperative and its brand.

The results are still subject to final review and certification by the independent inspector of elections. That final certification is expected late Tuesday.

While the results are not final, the preliminary count shows that a 53 percent majority of growers voting endorsed resolutions to downsize the 15-member board to 12 and clear the slate for the election of a new board.

An alternate slate of 12 board candidates, including three members who serve on the existing board, was elected by a similar margin of almost 53 percent, according to the preliminary count.

By the preliminary results, candidates elected to the Board today were Wisconsin growers Gary Dempze, Kay Finch and Ryan Walker; Massachusetts growers Paul Morse and Richard Posnysz, as well as Robert Rosbe Jr., an executive of the Massachusetts-based A.D. Makepeace Company; Oregon grower Daryl Robison; British Columbia grower Peter Dhillon; Florida grapefruit grower Thomas Hurley; and outside directors Jerome Jenko, Thomas Summer and Gary Baise. Robison, Jenko and Summer serve on the existing board.

Ocean Spray interim CEO Barbara Thomas, a current Board member who stepped into the CEO slot in November upon the resignation of Robert Hawthorne, has agreed to remain as interim CEO until either a new interim or permanent CEO is appointed.

In the wake of today’s preliminary result, current Board chairman Benjamin Gilmore of Massachusetts said, “On behalf of my fellow directors, I commend the Growers Information Coalition for rallying the support of the majority and participating in the democratic process. Assuming these results are certified, we will make ourselves available to assist the new board in making a smooth transition for the cooperative.”

Gilmore added, “As we finally move toward closure on this long process, our grower-owners can begin putting the Ocean Spray cooperative and its brand squarely on track for a new era of profitability. We will have an opportunity and a responsibility to unite around that common cause.”

Gilmore said Ocean Spray should continue to forge ahead on a series of internal improvements aimed at boosting grower returns, streamlining the company and strengthening the brand’s market position.

Formed in 1930, the Ocean Spray cooperative is made up of growers large and small, representing a cross-section of growers from all cranberry-producing regions: Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and other Canadian provinces. In addition to some 800 cranberry growers, Ocean Spray is owned by some 125 grapefruit growers from the Indian River region of Florida.

Upon official certification of the votes, the company expects the new board would meet for the first time to elect a chairperson and begin the transition process.