A leader in the global fresh fruit produce industry, Craig Stauffer announced his plans for retirement after an impressive four-decade-long career as an industry leader, mentor, and friend to many.
“This is a momentous occasion for our entire Vanguard family as we have had a front row seat to the industry trailblazing road Craig and his team have paved,” a comment shared by the various Vanguard global offices.
“Craig dedicated his career to Vanguard’s people and building a highperforming team, implementing our vertically integrated strategy coupled with our long established 3rd-party grower partnerships to achieve a reliable 52-week global supply solution for our customers around the world, and he guided us through the start-up, growth, and sale of Vanguard International, as well as through the pandemic and global challenges the industry has faced, while having plenty of laughs along the way.”
Craig will retire from his day-to-day business activities effective December 31, 2023, and will transition to a strategic role on the Board of Directors of the Vanguard International Group. Actions are being taken now and will continue indefinitely to ensure a smooth transition.
Craig Stauffer and Guy Kisling founded Vanguard in 1991 with a staff of two people and nurtured the growth of the company into a global enterprise with 10 global offices and a high-performing team of produce leaders.
During his time as CEO of Vanguard, Craig also led the establishment of Vanguard Peru and Vanguard Direct, which, in seven years, positioned Vanguard as a global leader in growing and distributing IP seedless table grapes globally.
“As CEO of Vanguard, Craig made significant contributions to Vanguard International, Vanguard Direct, Vanguard Peru, and the produce industry overall,” said Luis Paz-Galindo, a Blue Road Capital partner and a member of the Vanguard Group’s Board of Directors.
“Craig’s vision, foresight, and commitment paved the way for Vanguard to continue its position as a global leader for decades to come. Craig has our full support as he begins this new chapter in his life, and we look forward to having him focused on strategic initiatives at the Board level.
Furthermore, compliments to Craig, Manuel, Dirk, and the entire Vanguard global team for achieving the successful execution of our vertically integrated business model, and I am excited to support Manuel, Dirk, and the rest of the team to continue the implementation of Craig’s vision.”
“While I am retiring as the CEO of the Vanguard International Group, I will continue to be active and will be focusing my efforts at the Board level on strategic initiatives. This decision was not an easy one for me because I love this industry, and I am very passionate about our business, and as everyone knows the people at the Vanguard group of companies are like family, but this is the optimal time to pass the torch to Manuel Yzaga, Dirk Winkelmann, and our global leadership team, and I’m excited to be able to continue working with them going forward and helping them in every way that I can.”
Effective January 1, 2024, Manuel Yzaga, the current CEO of Vanguard Peru, will become the new CEO of The Vanguard International Group.
Manuel joined the Vanguard team in 2017 and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Vanguard Group CEO position. Before joining the Vanguard team, Manuel served as Sun World’s country representative and consultant in Peru and was responsible for introducing Sun World’s proprietary varieties to Peruvian growers.
Prior to Sun World, Manuel himself was a table grape grower, shipper, and export sales and marketer in Ica, Peru. At Vanguard Peru, Manuel has led the team to record-breaking harvests and positioned the company as a global grape leader.
“Moreover, Manuel has led the implementation of our strategy and operations in Peru, and his knowledge about all aspects of our business from farming to operations to sales makes him the ideal person to take Vanguard with our vision to the next level,” stated Craig.
Manuel is committed to the direction of the group and further added that “I have been closely and carefully following Craig´s vision of our global business and our vertically integrated strategy, understanding our markets, our partnerships, as well as the why and the how questions. We have deployed a very potent vertically integrated strategy that we will continue to work, consolidating that vision, with a multi-fruit strategy in Peru and in the future eventually moving to other geographies in addition to our valued 3rd-party strategic partners. I have only words of gratitude to Craig, the board, and all the Vanguard team members, here, I commit we will continue to serve our customers with the great quality service we have been known for the past thirty-three years.”
Dirk Winkelmann, the current President of Vanguard Direct, will also become the Group’s Chief Commercial Officer and the President of Vanguard International USA. Dirk rejoined Vanguard in 2015, bringing with him 28 years of industry experience, 12 of which were previously at Vanguard.
Founded in 1991, Vanguard International has been marketing and selling fresh fruits and vegetables globally for over 32 years, operating offices in Chile, China, Indonesia, Peru, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States. www.vanguardteam.com