New Tomato Sales Organization

A group of produce industry investors has started a new national tomato sales organization. Based in Naples, Fla., Fresh Link Tomato was started by Integrated Fresh Solutions LLC, a holding company that has Michael Leach, former vice president and general manager of Epic Roots LLC, as its vice president of business development. Michael Smith is Fresh Link’s vice president of sales and marketing. The company is a source-driven organization that plans to market and distribute partial and entire tomato crops from Florida, California and Mexico growers. 

Premier Citrus Wins Grove Worker Competition

Premier Citrus was the 2008 winner of the Grove Worker Competition at the Indian River Citrus Seminar in Ft. Pierce, Fla. The Premier Citrus team members were among nearly 600 grove workers and managers that participated in the competition, which included a tractor rodeo, irrigation repair, greening and canker identification skills and fertilizer application techniques. In addition to the competition, the seminar held meetings and sessions surrounding key topics related to growing and production success including canker and greening identification and the issue of abandoned groves. The seminar also featured indoor and outdoor exhibits with industry suppliers.

USDA Establishes Quality Monitoring Program

The USDA has established a new service in response to the processed and fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s need to supplement internal quality control programs. The new Quality Monitoring Program (QMP) permits companies to submit specific processed produce samples for review to graders from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Chicago-based U.S. Foodservice is the first company to sign an agreement with AMS to provide QMP services at several of its distribution centers. After an AMS inspection, products that do not conform to assigned specifications are immediately reported back to the company. The produce industry relies on AMS’ trained inspectors to provide impartial review and certification of shipments in various stages of the marketing chain.

Staff Changes at Nunhems

Nunhems USA has named Russ Kabaker the integration manager and new lettuce crop sales manager after seven years of holding the crop sales manager position within the company’s carrot program. In his new position, Kabaker will oversee the design, implementation and execution of marketing and sales strategies for the combined Nunhems lettuce portfolio. He will also play a vital role in integrating Paragon Seeds, a lettuce seed breeding and production company recently acquired by Nunhems. John Erb succeeds Kabaker as carrot crop sales manager for the Americas.

Nunhems has also named Jeff Boettge  crops sales manager for the company’s onion and hot pepper programs. In this role, Boettge will lead teams of experts in research, product development and sales and marketing for the company’s onion and hot pepper portfolios across North and South America.

Organic Seeds Sought for OMRI Database

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) has cut prices for seed suppliers to list organic varieties in the Institute’s organic seed database. Established in October 2006, the database enables organic growers to search the diversity of available organic seed, both open pollinated varieties and newly developed hybrids. Additionally, the database offers an opportunity for seed companies to connect with growers. Previously, seed companies paid a flat $25 plus $50 for every five varieties included beyond the initial five. The new fee will be a $60 flat rate. The change in rate is an effort to encourage the participation of smaller, more diverse companies in OMRI’s service.

Dealer Development Underway at McCormick

McCormick International USA has hired industry veteran Thurman Kirkland to lead its dealer development efforts and expand the number of dealers carrying the Landini and McCormick product lines. Kirkland will focus on all aspects of dealer development in the United States, including working directly with territory managers to expand the dealer base for both brands and assist in sales management efforts.

Zander New Director of Sales, Marketing at Manitou

Kirk Zander has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Manitou North America. Zander was initially hired as the Midwest regional sales manager, a position he held for six years. He also held the position of field sales manager for the past three years.

Bobcat Unleashes 50th Anniversary Contest

As part of its yearlong, 50th anniversary celebration, Bobcat Company is launching the How Bobcat Unleashed Me Contest. The contest seeks input from customers on how Bobcat equipment has helped them in performing work better, smarter and faster. One winner will be selected to receive a $75,000 Bobcat gift certificate, good for products or attachments of the winner’s choice at a designated Bobcat dealer in North America. Five second prize winners will receive $1,000 gift certificates, 10 third prize winners will receive a Bobcat jacket and 50 monthly winners will receive the book “Bobcat: 50 Years of Opportunity, 1958 – 2008”. Weekly winners will receive a Bobcat 50th Anniversary hat and the grand prize will be selected from the weekly winners.

To enter, equipment users need to write a brief essay about their experiences with Bobcat equipment and fill out an entry form at the Bobcat 50 Years Unleashed Web site, www.bobcat.com/50. Entries will be judged on creativity, quality, completeness and originality of answers, as well as any supporting documents. Selected winning entries will be posted on the Web site. The contest concludes on May 30, 2008.

NESEED and D. Palmer Seed Merge

After 20 years in business for both companies, NESEED and D. Palmer Seed have merged. This merger forges DPSEEDS LLC to continue to work with over 15 independent plant breeders. In an effort to get growers what they need, NESEED will continue to market and be the liaison between grower s and the company’s breeding partners.  

New U.S. Sales Manager at MOI

 Marrone Organic Innovations (MOI) has appointed David Warman as its U.S. sales manager. Warman will oversee sales to all markets including agriculture, specialty, and turf and ornamental s. Particular attention will be given to current and new distribution partners to effectively launch new compounds. Prior to MOI, Warman was responsible for the development of AgraQuest Inc.’s professional biological products line. He has also worked for Griffin LLC as regional manager and with Ciba/Geigy (Novartis) where he spent 21 years in various sales, marketing, and sales management positions. A native of Oregon and a graduate of Oregon State University with a degree in agronomy, Warman now resides in Ocala, Fla.

New Quality Monitoring Program for Growers

The USDA has established a new service that was developed in response to the processed and fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s need to supplement internal quality control programs. The new Quality Monitoring Program (QMP) permits companies to submit specific processed produce samples for review to graders from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Chicago-based U.S. Foodservice is the first company to sign an agreement with AMS to provide QMP services at several of its distribution centers. After an AMS inspection, products that do not conform to assigned specifications are immediately reported back to the company. For more information, e-mail Terry.Bane@usda.gov or call 202-720-4693.

Kiefer Joins ACI

Agri-Cover, Inc.  (ACI) has expanded its sales team with the addition of Russ Kiefer. In his new role as national sales manager for ACI’s ag division, Kiefer is responsible for growing accounts in the U.S. market. He brings six years of experience building dealer networks in the U.S. and international markets and over 20 years of sales and marketing experience.