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Thomson International founder Jeff Thomson dies at 69

Jeff Thomson, founder of Bakersfield, CA-based Thomson International Inc., died Tuesday, Oct. 10.  Mr. Thomson was a fifth-generation California farmer and his career in agribusiness spanned over 40 years.Jeff-Thomson- Photograph

A pioneer in the garlic industry in the 1970s through the 1990s, in the early 2000s, Mr. Thomson and his children, Karen and Jack, transitioned the farming and sales focus of Thomson International to other commodities, including watermelons, onions and Bell peppers.  Mr. Thomson was the head of sales for Thomson International’s conventional watermelon program for almost 20 years. He along with his daughter Annie, marketed and sold watermelons for several growers in Mexico, California, Oregon and Washington. 

"A great man, friend, peer, person — I looked forward to the California watermelon deal every year because I got to work with this amazing guy and his family," said Tommy Mendoza of Greenfield Fresh. "I will forever cherish the years I was privileged to represent his label in the San Francisco Bay area and other Northern California locations. He will be missed."

Mr. Thomson worked alongside his wife, Elaine, and youngest daughter, Nancy, who handle accounting for Thomson International. According to the company, Mr. Thomson’s children will continue the legacy their father started and have plans for further expansion at Thomson International in the future.

Mr. Thomson found passion and purpose in several produce and ag-related organizations. He was the youngest member of Ag Leadership Class 3, he was president of the Kern County Farm Bureau 1979-81, and he and his wife served as chairman of the Outstanding Farmers of America.  Mr. Thomson remained active in several other produce organizations throughout his career.

A career highlight for Mr. Thomson would be receiving the 2017 California Leopold Conservation Award for land stewardship and conservation efforts. His family will accept the award on his behalf at the California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting this December.

The company said Mr. Thomson will be remembered for not only being innovative in his farming and business practices, but as a man who was well-loved and respected by his employees, customers and colleagues.
 The Thomson International family will carry forward his commitment to provide excellent customer service and high-quality produce for several generations to come.