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
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.