Graceland Fruit Management Team Announcements

2 Aug 2019

Frankfort-based dried fruit manufacturer Graceland Fruit announces the following management team additions and promotions:

Graceland Fruit Management Team Announcements
Jordan Nye Fekete

Jeff Seeley is Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Graceland Fruit, Inc., a leading global provider of premium dried fruit.

Seeley was engaged as a consultant in February 2018 by the Graceland Fruit Board of Directors to reconfigure the board, provide a roadmap for the organization hierarchy, and work with them to create an organizational strategy through his company, Carew International, Inc.

Carew has transformed many sales organizations, including John Deere, Dow Chemical, Coca Cola, Baxter Health, Patterson Companies, USG, and W.W. Grainger. Under his leadership, the Carew organization has been consistently named among the best sales training and leadership development companies by Selling Power Magazine and other organizations. Seeley has worked with numerous organizations as a board member, advisor, and strategic consultant.

In March of 2019, the Graceland Board asked Seeley to join the board and become the executive chairman of the company. In July 2019 Seeley took the additional title of Chief Executive Officer.

Seeley’s executive experience prior to Carew International, Inc., includes 14 years with Hillenbrand Industries formally (NYSE - HB), now Hillenbrand (NYSE-HI) and Hill-Rom (NYSE-HRC) a Fortune 1000 Company, where his last position was Senior Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Corporate Development for a $1.4 billion segment including Forethought Insurance and Batesville Casket. He was the finalist for the CEO position before departing. Throughout his 14-year tenure at Hillenbrand, Jeff also held executive leadership positions in strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, new business ventures, international business, and operations. He was responsible for Hillenbrand’s expansion into global markets and was the executive in charge of three Hillenbrand start-ups. Additionally, he held operations leadership positions as a plant manager in two locations, and general manager of a manufacturing division and helped lead the implementation of LEAN manufacturing into the Batesville Casket Division. This was the precursor to the Hillenbrand Operating Model. Seeley was one of youngest Hillenbrand associates promoted to Vice-President and Senior Executive Vice-President in Hillenbrand history.

Seeley also spent almost seven years with EY (formerly Ernst & Whinney) as a corporate strategy and growth consultant. He is a nonpracticing Certified Public Accountant.

Seeley is a graduate of Central Michigan University, majoring in accounting, where Seeley and Carew International helped establish the nationally recognized CMU Professional Sales Institute. Seeley has completed an MBA in strategy and extensive professional development work at the University of Michigan and several other top 20 universities including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.

Corey Geer has joined Graceland Fruit as the Vice President of Finance. Corey comes to Graceland with over twenty years of progressive finance and accounting experience, earning his BA in finance from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Graceland Fruit, Corey was the Chief Financial Officer at Shoreline Fruit and General Manager of its processing facility, CherryFlex Inc. Corey brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in traditional manufacturing and food processing. As Vice President of Finance Corey will own all aspects of financial reporting, budgeting, and planning for Graceland.

Jordan Nye Fekete has been promoted to Director of Business Strategy. Jordan has been instrumental in supporting Graceland’s consumer sales efforts in China. In her new role, she will expand upon these responsibilities with a primary focus on managing the Graceland Fruit China office in Shanghai. Jordan will also work closely with the marketing and R&D teams in improving the strategic approach to innovative new product development. She holds a BA in business from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Brenna Nugent has been promoted to Marketing & Communications Manager. In her new role, Brenna will coordinate and execute activities across multiple product lines, markets and platforms, providing support for the growth of the Graceland Fruit brand and family of products. Brenna joined Graceland in 2016 as an International Sales Coordinator and was promoted to Senior Sales Coordinator in 2018. She graduated from Western Michigan University in 2011 with a major in marketing.

Drew Gentry has been promoted to Research & Development Manager. Drew has worked for Graceland Fruit since 2016, previously as a process engineer for the company. Drew attended the University of Michigan where he received his BSE in chemical engineering. Before working for Graceland Fruit, Drew worked as a process and quality engineer with Michelin North America, focusing on lean manufacturing practices. In his new role, Drew will be responsible for managing R&D activities associated with new product development and will support continuous improvement of existing product lines.

Aaron Mayes joins Graceland Fruit as the Financial Planning & Analysis Manager. Aaron earned his degree in business administration from Spring Arbor University, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2013. Prior to working at Graceland Fruit, Aaron was a financial analyst at EJ Group, Inc. where he aided in the development and collection of internal manufacturing costs and financial data. In his new role at Graceland, Aaron will assist with pricing and cost analysis, inventory accounting and accuracy, budgeting and forecasting, internal and external reporting, and continuous improvement activities. Aaron and his wife Heather reside in Traverse City and are expecting their second child any day now!