Calavo CEO Brian Kocher leaves

  • After about a year in the position
  • Thanks and good wishes for Kocher
  • Lee Cole taking over

(exechange) — Santa Paula, California, March 13, 2023 — Brian Kocher, chief executive of Calavo, leaves his position. As announced by Calavo Growers Inc. in a news release on Monday, March 13, 2023, Brian W. Kocher leaves his post as chief executive officer at the avocado grower, after about a year in the role, effective immediately.

The average tenure of CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 8.1 years. Around 12% of departing CEOs left their posts within two years. This is according to data collected by CEO-exit research firm exechange.

exechange tracks CEO departures at the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., examines the reasons CEOs leave and determines the Push‑out Score™, a measure of pressure on departing chief executives on a scale of 0 to 10.

Brian Kocher’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Lee E. Cole, a former Chief Executive Officer at Calavo Growers Inc.

It is a reverse generational change. Lee Cole is about 30 years older than Brian Kocher.

“Growth and shareholder value creation”

Calavo did not give an explicit reason for Brian Kocher’s departure from the CEO post. Calavo stated: “Mr. Cole has agreed to lead the Company for three years with the goal of returning the company to a position of growth and shareholder value creation.”

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (26.8% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16.9%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (9.5%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for leadership changes included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (5.5% of cases), personal reasons (3.7%) and conduct issues (2.2%). Rather rarely stated reasons are career change (2.2% of cases), health problems (1.5%), disagreement (1.2%), death (1.2%) and the desire for more time with family (0.9%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 28.3% of cases, no reason was given.

Precise information regarding Brian Kocher’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Stepped down”

Calavo said: “Mr. Cole succeeds Brian W. Kocher, who has stepped down from his role.”

Share price decline since February 2022

The announcement follows a decline in Calavo Growers Inc.’s share price of 41% since February 2022. February 2022 is the month in which Kocher’s tenure as CEO began.

In the position of CEO since 2022

Brian Kocher became CEO of the Company in 2022.

Kocher served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Castellini Group of Companies, one of the largest distributors of fresh produce in the United States from January 2017 to January 2022, and as Chief Operating Officer from May 2015 to December 2016.

Before his time at Castellini, Kocher held several executive roles, including Interim CEO, at Chiquita Brands International, a leading producer and distributor of bananas and other produce.

At the time of Brian Kocher’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Calavo, J. Link Leavens, then Calavo Chairman, had stated: “After conducting a thorough search, including interviews with several well qualified candidates, Brian Kocher was the clear choice of our Board of Directors to become the next President and Chief Executive Officer of Calavo Growers. Brian’s deep knowledge, expertise and operational leadership in the fresh produce industry as a CEO, COO and CFO make him uniquely qualified to lead Calavo forward and position our company for growth. We are delighted to welcome Brian to our talented team.”

At the time of Brian Kocher’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Calavo, Kocher had stated: “I am thrilled and privileged to join and lead Calavo for its next phase of growth and transformation. I’m excited about the actions and initiatives that are in place and look forward to accelerating the impact of those initiatives while capitalizing on consumer trends that support Calavo’s growth. Most importantly, I am honored to join a team focused on the success of our customers and each other.”

No statement by Brian Kocher

In the news release announcing his departure as CEO of Calavo Growers Inc., Brian Kocher received thanks and good wishes.

The announcement of his departure as CEO does not include a statement by Brian Kocher.

Over the past 12 months, 25% of all outgoing CEOs remained silent in the departure announcement, according to data compiled by exechange. Departing CEOs who did make a statement said an average of 109 words. The longest statement was 510 words. The shortest statement was 23 words. Leadership transitions in which departing CEOs provide conspicuously short or no explanations for their move are statistically associated with elevated pressure and show an increased incidence of Push-out Scores above the critical threshold of 5, according to exechange data.

38% of CEOs are forced out or fired

When CEO departures are announced, exechange determines the Push-out Score on a scale of 0 to 10 to assess how likely it is that the chief executive was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position, with 0 being most likely a voluntary move and 10 being most likely a forced exit. Anything over a 5 indicates that there are valid reasons to believe an executive may have been pushed out.

Of the 325 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (March 13, 2022, to March 12, 2023), the average Push-out Score was 5.9, according to exechange data. References to conduct issues, disagreements and irregularities lead to the highest Push-out Scores. When performance issues, time with family or personal reasons were cited as departure reasons, the average Push-out Scores were also significantly elevated.

Around 38% of the CEO departure events from the past 12 months received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher.

In other words, in the past 12 months, three in eight departing CEOs were forced out or fired.

Push-out Score for Brian Kocher’s move determined

The Push-out Score regarding Brian Kocher’s move is explained point by point in the exechange report.

exechange reached out to Calavo and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 12.2023 ($).