Clewiston, FL – U.S. Sugar today announced its longtime President & CEO, Robert. H. Buker, Jr., the longest tenured CEO in the Company’s 92-year history, has elected to retire effective October 27, 2023, and that upon Buker’s retirement, Executive Vice President Kenneth W. McDuffie will assume the role as his successor.
“On behalf of the U.S. Sugar Board of Directors, I want to sincerely thank Bob for his dedication to the Company as our President & CEO over the last 18 years,” said Board of Directors Chair Ridgway White. “Under Bob’s leadership, U.S. Sugar further solidified and expanded its position as a premier agricultural company. Ken is a proven leader who will build on the foundation Bob has established to fulfill the vast potential this company and its employees hold.”
“At 73 years old and after 41 years of working with and for U.S. Sugar, I am proud to say that I am leaving the Company with confidence knowing it is stronger, more resilient, has far better leadership, and is in an overall better position than when I began,” said Buker. “I am proud that I served with a Board of Directors with great values and vision, and with an amazing group of employees.”
Buker continued, “In my time at U.S. Sugar, we weathered hurricanes, freezes, droughts, diseases and many other obstacles created by Mother Nature. We also confronted legal, political and constitutional challenges from activists, and emerged from them not only victorious, but also with our integrity intact. Time has proven that our decisions have been to the benefit of our shareholders, our employees and our communities.”
Upon announcing his retirement in a letter to employees, Buker reflected on the Company’s many accomplishments during his tenure. Buker noted, “We invested heavily in technology and innovation, created an information technology infrastructure that is second to none, and set the standard for excellence in our agricultural and manufacturing departments – led by the best management team in the business. We have enriched our communities through civic improvement, volunteerism and philanthropy. Most recently, we acquired a second refinery and have continued to grow our business in a sensible way. Because of these endeavors, I know our Company will continue to flourish.”
McDuffie is a Clewiston native and most recently served as U.S. Sugar’s Executive Vice President. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Agricultural Operations from 2005 to 2021, leading efforts to modernize U.S. Sugar’s agricultural operations and develop one of the most technologically advanced and productive harvesting fleets in the nation. McDuffie first joined U.S. Sugar in 1992. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from Florida State University.
“U.S. Sugar is a special company rooted in history and traditional farming values, and I am humbled by the opportunity to lead a great team of agribusiness professionals,” said McDuffie. “I look forward to building on the successes accomplished under Bob’s leadership and leading the company into the future.”
McDuffie and his wife Melissa (Dusty) have two sons, Nick and Samuel, who are currently enrolled in college. His third son Landon and daughter-in-law London live in Stuart with grandson Preston.
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