Agriculture

Overly, Sun-Maid CEO, departs after five-year run of shake ups at raisin packer

Sun-Maid Growers, the Fresno-based raisin and dried fruit processor, announced major changes to its leadership Monday. 

Harry Overly, who has been the President and CEO since 2017, will move to the new role of Executive Chairman of the Board to aid in a transition at the raisin packer. 

Overly is taking on the chief executive of Flagstone Foods, another snack company focused on nuts.

Chief Financial Officer Braden Bender will take over as Interim President of Sun-Maid while Overly and the Board of Directors conduct a search for the next CEO. 

“Harry is a considerate and ambitious leader and we’re fortunate to have had him lead our company over the last five years, said Steve Kister, Chairman of the Sun-Maid Board of Directors. 

“We’re thankful for the leadership, vision and outstanding performance Harry brought to Sun-Maid. I’m very pleased that Harry will continue to work with our board as Executive Chairman, to continue the momentum he’s established.” 

Overly’s splashy entrance as CEO of Sun-Maid was marked by a 2019 exposé in The New York Times detailing the growing divide between the industry’s largest company and the Fresno-based Raisin Bargaining Association in setting prices and managing the market.

Under Overly’s watch, Sun-Maid moved its corporate offices from its Kingsburg-based plant into prime north Fresno real estate along Herndon Ave.

But the highlight of Overly’s tenure leading Sun-Maid was in 2021, when he led the 110-year-old company’s first-ever brand acquisition with the purchase of Plum Organics. 

Sun-Maid said Overly has led the company to record sales as the business continues to aggressively grow. 

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to lead the Sun-Maid organization. I’d like to thank the Board of Directors, each and every grower-member and employee for their support as we transformed this beloved business and iconic brand to be more relevant to today’s shoppers,” Overly said. 

“While I’m personally excited for my next adventure within the better-for-you snacking space, which will still be involved with growers here in California’s Central Valley, the Sun-Maid family will always be important to me.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.