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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Bob Stine of Tejon Ranch was on hand for the unveiling of the new TravelCenters of America facility in this file photo.

The president and chief executive of Tejon Ranch Co. announced this week that he will retire at the end of this year but stay involved with the company as a board member.

Robert A. "Bob" Stine, 66, has led the Lebec agribusiness and real estate development company for 17 years, making him its longest-serving chief executive.

"Bob Stine has established quite a legacy," Tejon Ranch Chairman Kent G. Snyder said in a written statement.

"In his 17 years at the ranch, he has transformed Tejon into a truly diversified land development and agribusiness company committed to building long-term shareholder value."

Stine made his announcement at the publicly traded company's annual meeting Tuesday in Orange County.

"My retirement from full-time employment will allow my wife and me more time to be with our growing grandchildren and for travel," Stine said in a written statement. "I look forward to working with the new president, as a member of the board, and watching Tejon Ranch Co. continue to grow."

Tejon Ranch, at 270,000 acres the largest contiguous piece of private property in California, is the principal asset of a company that has diversified under Stine's leadership from agribusiness to commercial and residential real estate development.

In recent years, the company has partnered on the development of a warehousing and retail center near the foot of the Grapevine. Its industrial tenants include Caterpillar and Ikea; the retail side boasts large chains such as In-N-Out Burger, Petro Truck Stops and Starbucks. Grading work at a nearby outlet shopping center is planned to start there this month.

Stine has guided work on two large residential projects — Tejon Mountain Village in Lebec and Centennial east of Gorman — that have not begun construction. A full environmental review of the Centennial project is pending, but the mountain village is fully entitled and ready to go when the company decides market conditions are right.

As part of these residential projects, Tejon Ranch signed a landmark conservation agreement with leading environmental groups. The 2008 deal set aside 90 percent of the ranch for preservation and freed the company to develop the other 10 percent.

Prior to joining Tejon, Stine worked for 17 years at the San Diego-based Collins Cos., working his way up to CEO from vice president. He served before that as vice president of the commercial real estate company that later became CB Richard Ellis.

A past member of the The Bakersfield Californian's board of directors, Stine is a director at Bakersfield's Valley Republic Bank. He is also a director of the California Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Urban Land Institute.

Tejon Ranch Co.'s board of directors has formed a committee to begin searching for someone to replace him. The committee has hired an executive search firm to help identify internal and external candidates.