In the 1950's Harold Jackson decided to major in agriculture at Southeastern Louisiana University because he liked the curriculum. Today, Jackson says it turned out to be a wise choice.
Jackson enjoyed his stay at Southeastern and was even a member of Southeastern's student rodeo club. Jackson's career began with the United States Department of Agriculture. "They had an office located right on campus. I started with them in my last semester of school." Jackson's job included checking the loading of sugar on ships in New Orleans.
Jackson joined Sunsweet in 1977 as a plant manager and quickly moved up the ranks as assistant production manager, production manager, division operations manager, vice-president of prune operations for the newly formed Sun-Diamond Growers, and president in 1986. Under Jackson's guidance, his management team is credited with major gains in operating efficiencies, cost reductions and sales growth for Sun-Diamond Growers Earnings climbed from a $5.4 million loss in 1981 to more than 20 million on the plus side in 1987 and 1989. Jackson is credited with introducing new efficiencies in operations and innovative employee management practices that greatly increased productivity and worker satisfaction.
Before joining the Sunsweet family, Jackson worked for Duffy-Mott's fruit and juice processing plant in Hartford, Mich., and as director of quality control for Cherry Growers, Inc, in Traverse City, Michigan.
After graduating Jackson married a fellow Southeastern student, Sarah Cannon, who passed away in 1994. Jackson met his second wife, Shirley, on a visit home to Gloster, Miss. The two had dated in high school, but hadn't seen each other in 41 years. Thanks to that chance meeting, Shirley and Harold were soon married.