Bernard A. Egan, the youngest of nine children and the son of an Irish emigre, was born on June 7, 1914, in Elizabeth, N.J. A product of the Great Depression who majored in pre-law at New York’s Fordham University, Egan devoted his successful 64-year career to the expansion of export markets for fresh Florida citrus and pioneered the development of new markets in Europe and the Far East.
Egan’s roots in produce sales come from his father, who was president of a New York produce sales and distribution company called Egan, Fickett & Co., and a Florida fresh citrus packing company. After his father died in 1937, Egan left his job with the Refrigerated Steamship Line, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Co., and joined his brothers in the family business. Business trips to Florida led to the decision in 1968 to move the company to Vero Beach to be closer to the supply of fresh citrus and subsequently resulted in the acquisition of more than 6,000 acres of citrus groves along Florida’s east coast. Since 1968, Egan concentrated his efforts on building the family-owned company’s reputation as a premier supplier of the highest-quality fresh Indian River citrus.
Egan is CEO of Bernard Egan & Co., an agribusiness corporation with 12 divisions that is now headquartered in Fort Pierce. One of these divisions, DNE Sales Inc., founded by Egan in 1968, is the largest marketing agent of fresh Florida citrus in the state with sales in more than 14 European countries and five countries in the Far East.
As a pioneer in fresh citrus exports, Egan broke new ground. His efforts have been recognized locally and nationally. In 1979 he received the prestigious Presidential “E” Award for Export Excellence. In 1988, Bernard Egan & Co. was a “Special Honoree” in the Florida Department of Commerce’s Industry Appreciation Program. The Florida Citrus Packers Association gave him its John T. Leslie Award of Excellence in Marketing in 1990. Shortly thereafter, he received the President’s “E Star” Award for Excellence in Exporting given for outstanding contributions to the increase of U.S. trade abroad.
In addition to his numerous corporate enterprises, Egan wears hats as a citrus grower with more than 10,000 acres and as a partner in Fellsmere Farms, a citrus and cattle agribusiness.
Egan was appointed by the Governor as a member of the Florida Citrus Commission from 1987 to 1990, has served on the board of directors for the Indian River Citrus League since 1976, and was chairman of the IRCL Board from 1987 to 1989 and its president from 1989-1991. He has been involved in many produce industry organizations, including the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association.
Active in his community, Egan is a sustaining sponsor of the United Way in St. Lucie and Indian River counties and is a founding co-chair of the Samaritan Center, a shelter for the homeless in Vero Beach. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Vero Beach. They have 10 children.