Edgar S. Beeland (1910-2007)
Kissimmee Citrus Growers Association
Clearwater Citrus Growers Association
Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association
Fruit Gift Box
Citrus Self-Insurer’s Fund
Born in 1910, Edgar S. Beeland graduated from Kissimmee Florida High School with the dream of becoming a doctor. Enrolling at the University of Florida one year before the Wall Street Crash, Beeland was forced to leave school and find work to support his family. With few jobs available at the time Beeland found work with the Kissimmee Citrus Growers Association (KCGA).
Beeland worked tirelessly for KCGA as a picker, and within nine years had learned much about the industry from KCGA’s general manager, Harry Plano. Beeland eventually moved into managerial positions, eventually becoming production manager as Plano’s assistant. In 1938 the Clearwater Citrus Growers Association (CCGA) hired Beeland as the youngest general manager in the business at that time. Beeland worked for twenty-eight years at CCGA, with the exception of a three-year stint in the army in Panama during World War II.
Back at CCGA in 1950, Beeland created a partnership with Harry & David’s “Fruit of the Month” Club; a partnership that lasted for sixteen years. Beeland helped engineer the conveyor belts at the packing house to accommodate the gift boxes from Harry & David’s “Fruit of the Month” Club. Between 1957 and 1962, freezes devastated Pinellas County citrus, which in turn forced Beeland to shut down the packinghouse. Beeland was a widely sought after expert in citrus and after several overtures from other companies, he became Executive Vice President and General Manager at Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association, a position he held for twenty-two years.
Beeland’s contributions to the fresh fruit packing industry were vast. He played a major role in expanding citrus markets. He helped improve the quality of products. He imposed “central purchasing” as a means of cutting unnecessary costs. He was one of the ten founding members of the Citrus Self-Insurer’s Fund, which is now Florida Citrus, Business & Industries Fund, a self-insurance group fund dedicated to providing access to workers’ compensation insurance coverage for citrus employers. He was the first chairman of CSIF, and continued in that position for twenty years.
Beeland served on many citrus boards including, Seald Sweet Growers Executive Committee (1971-1976). He served as on the boards of directors of the Citrus World and Highlands-Exchange Service Cooperative and the Florida Citrus Packers. Beeland was also recognized with several awards for his contributions to the industry. In 1991, he was awarded the John T. Lesley Award of Excellence for his leadership, service, and role in the Florida fresh fruit industry. Beeland is remembered as saying “God bless the common man, there are so many of us.” Beeland always considered himself to be a hardworking “common man” and dedicated his life to the betterment of the citrus industry.