After 52 years at the helm of Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, its founder, president and chief executive officer George Wedgworth has stepped down from day-to-day duties. He will remain chairman of its board of directors. The board has appointed Antonio L. (Tony) Contreras Jr. as president and chief executive officer and Jose F. Alvarez, as chief operating officer and general manager of the cooperative, where he has worked for 23 years.
After 52 years at the helm of Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, its founder, President and Chief Executive Officer George H. Wedgworth announced he has stepped down from day-to-day duties at its annual membership meeting last week, however, he will remain chairman of its Board of Directors. Wedgworth has guided the Cooperative from its inception to what the Cooperative is today: a world class vertically integrated sugar cane operation that jointly owns the largest cane sugar refining company in the world.
“From the novel idea of organizing the Cooperative to overseeing its construction, the expansions and integration into the cane sugar refining business, George was the driving force,” said John L. Hundley, vice president and secretary-treasurer of the Board. “He directed every facet of the Cooperative with honesty, integrity and resolve. His leadership and his legacy are the basic foundation of the Cooperative and will be carried out by the new leadership.”
The Board appointed Antonio L. (Tony) Contreras Jr. as President and Chief Executive Officer and Jose F. Alvarez, as Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of the Cooperative. Recognizing that these are big shoes to fill, the membership of the Cooperative welcomed this transition as a positive move in fulfilling its commitment to provide economic growth and performance for the 46 grower-owners and the more than 550 people in the Cooperative’s workforce.
Contreras previously served as the Executive Vice President–Marketing and Refining Operations at the Cooperative. He also serves as Co-President and Chairman of the Board of American Sugar Refining, Inc. (ASR), that the Cooperative jointly owns with Florida Crystals Corporation. Contreras has been in the sugar industry for 37 years and at the Cooperative for 28 years. A native of Cuba, Contreras earned a BS in business administration from the University of Miami and a Masters in international marketing from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ. Contreras sits on the board of the Florida Sugar and Molasses Exchange, Inc., Vice Chairman and board member of Domino Foods, Inc., and is a member of the Inter Continental Exchange (ICE) Domestic Sugar Committee.
Alvarez previously served as Executive Vice President-Operations and General Manager at the Cooperative. He also serves as Vice President and a Board Member of ASR. Alvarez has been in the sugar industry for 40 years and at the Cooperative for 23 years. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a BS in mechanical engineering, and a MBA in finance. Alvarez is a member and past president of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologist and member of the Sugar Processing Research Institute.
Wedgworth said, “I’m proud of the team we have put together. I have full faith that they are well suited to lead the Cooperative through the next half-century of growth. Tony and Jose are well equipped to meet the dynamic challenges and opportunities facing the sweetener business.”
On a personal note Wedgworth expressed his mixed emotions about leaving his day-to-day responsibilities. He said, “The Cooperative has been my baby that I nurtured and watched grow into an international sugar powerhouse. I will miss being a part of the daily challenges.” Wedgworth added, “The success of the Cooperative can only be considered as extraordinary.”
About the Cooperative: the Cooperative is made up of 46 small to medium size sugar cane farms located in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). The grower-owners produce sugarcane on some 65,000 acres of land generating 2.75 million tons of sugarcane yielding 300,000 tons of sugar per annum. The Cooperative is responsible for the harvesting, processing of sugar cane and the marketing of the raw sugar and molasses.
About American Sugar Refining, Inc. (ASR): ASR is jointly owned by the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida and Florida Crystals Corporation. With eight refineries in five countries, ASR produces some six million tons of refined sugar per annum, making it the largest cane sugar refining company in the world. ASR sells over 1,400 products in 99 countries under the premier brand names of Domino®, C&H®, Redpath®, Tate & Lyle®, Lyle’s Golden Syrup®, Sidul®, and Sores®.
SOURCE Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida