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LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets has promoted director of manufacturing Doug Harris to the position of vice president of manufacturing. He will succeed Jeff Stephens, who is retiring on May 1.

In his new role, Harris will oversee the efforts of Publix’s manufacturing businesses, which include seven fresh production plants and printing services.

“Doug has the ability to think strategically about how Publix manufacturing can continue to differentiate us from our competition,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “He creates strong, collaborative relationships that show how much he genuinely cares for his associates and Publix. I’m excited to see him continue to grow his Publix career.”

Harris, 46, began his Publix career in 1998 as an industrial engineer in Lakeland, Fla. He worked in various positions in logistics within manufacturing before transferring to the Atlanta dairy plant in 2006 as a production operations manager. In 2013, he was promoted to general manager of the Atlanta dairy plant. Harris transferred back to Lakeland last year, when he was promoted to his current role.

Stephens is retiring from Publix after 38 years. He began his Publix career in 1980 as a rail dock associate. He was promoted to lab technician in the dairy plant in 1983, quality control manager in 1988, general manager of the dairy plant in 2000 and director of fresh product manufacturing in 2005. In 2010, Stephens was promoted to director of manufacturing operations, and in 2013, he was promoted to his current position.

Publix is privately owned and operated by its more than 200,000 employees, with 2017 sales of $34.6 billion. Currently, Publix has 1,213 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.