SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Dean LaVallee has added the title of chief operating officer at Blue Diamond Growers, California’s largest almond cooperative. Mr. LaVallee will continue as chief financial officer, a position he has held since joining the cooperative in 2011.
In his combined roles, Mr. LaVallee will oversee the finance, global ingredients, and IT divisions within Blue Diamond Growers.
Prior to joining Blue Diamond Growers, Mr. LaVallee had a lengthy career at Kraft Foods in a variety of positions across the company’s US and Canada operations, most recently as vice president of finance transformation.
“We are so pleased to expand Dean’s responsibilities to include that of chief operating officer,” said Mark Jansen, president and chief executive officer of Blue Diamond Growers. “His strategic and proven leadership over the last decade within our organization has established a crucial foundation for Blue Diamond’s success in ensuring maximum returns to our grower-owners. In his new role, Dean will bring together the needed infrastructure, technology and resources for our continued growth and prosperity.”
In addition to Mr. LaVallee’s promotion, Blue Diamond Growers announced Bill Morecraft will be retiring at the end of the year after 35 years of service. Mr. Morecraft joined Blue Diamond Growers in 1986 working in finance, production planning, and sales planning. He assumed leadership of the Global Ingredients Division in 2008 where he is credited with streamlining the product line, introducing a focus on value-added ingredients, and developing a close relationship with Blue Diamond’s operations team to increase profitability.
“It is leaders such as Bill who have helped to make Blue Diamond Growers the global leader in almonds that it is today,” Mr. Jansen said. “All of us at Blue Diamond sincerely thank Bill for his hard work, dedication, and numerous contributions over the years and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
Meanwhile, Laura Gerhard was promoted to vice president to assume leadership responsibilities for Blue Diamond’s Global Ingredients Division. Ms. Gerhard will lead day-to-day operations of the division, which supplies almond ingredients for processed and prepared food manufacturers, as well as for bulk purchase, around the world. She also will oversee the commercial success of the division’s global product portfolio, which includes a growing array of almond-based ingredients, such as almond protein powder, almond flour, and almond butter.
Ms. Gerhard began her career with Blue Diamond Growers in 2017 as director of strategy and planning for the Global Ingredients Division. She added responsibility for Global Ingredient Division marketing in 2020.
“I have great trust in her leadership,” Mr. Jansen said. “Laura has been instrumental to our success in the Global Ingredients Division, where she has helped drive business growth, develop a strong team, and organize our business and strategic planning.”