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Knobeloch and Jenkins begin new venture

by | March 16, 2009
SALINAS, CA -- Bruce Knobeloch and Robert V. Jenkins have announced the formation of a new company, Knobeloch Jenkins Associates LLC.

This new business is focused on "providing business solutions to the fresh produce and perishables industries," according to a company press release, targeted toward supporting business owners, investors, creditors, boards of directors, executive management and project management teams.

The services offered will range from supporting and enhancing a client's strategic planning processes to assessing their business plan and structure toward achieving "best practices" to improving their corporate performance management, both operationally and financially to evaluating a company's marketing, brand management and product development efforts and evaluating their compliance with a variety of regulatory requirements.

The new company also offers a broad range of interim executive management solutions to companies which may be under-achieving from a profit or efficient operations perspective or businesses that simply want to access experienced leadership to help them achieve their specific goals.

"Bob and I, independently of each other, observed the need of many small to medium to large size companies in the fresh produce and perishables industries for experienced, professional executive level support from time to time," Mr. Knobeloch said in the March 16 press release. "In this day and age, it is hard to keep that professional expertise on staff full time. We feel our unique backgrounds and industry experience can provide much-needed, project-focused, temporary support to companies that need help."

The two men worked together previously at River Ranch Fresh Foods LLC, here, where Mr. Jenkins was president and chief executive officer, and Mr. Knobeloch was vice president of marketing. They left in 2008 and 2009, respectively, to pursue other challenges and opportunities in the fresh food business.

"For anyone that knows Bruce Knobeloch -- his superior talent, work ethic, experience and integrity -- the opportunity to partner with him again in delivering this broad range of business solutions was a no brainer for me, Mr. Jenkins said in the release. Bruce is an industry leader, and our skills complement each other very well. We each love the pace and divergent challenges of the fresh foods industry and are excited for the opportunities this industry provides, whether you are a current or prospective investor, in management or otherwise affiliated with this industry. Our expectation is to help companies increase shareholder value, despite the very difficult economic times and competitive challenges ahead. We believe that our specific fresh foods industry experience gives us a decided advantage over consultants and advisers who frankly don't understand how to assess and increase value in this space."

The breadth of Mr. Jenkins' successful professional experience in the fresh food industry spans the past 26 years, primarily in fresh produce as well in the broad line foodservice distribution business.

He has held executive management positions ranging from chief financial officer to chief operations officer to president and CEO for companies whose products were market-share leaders in private-brand salads, spinach and other value-added produce as well as the key commodities of lettuce, broccoli, asparagus and other fresh vegetables grown throughout North America and South America. Equally varied were his companies' international base of customers, ranging the full spectrum of the retail and foodservice markets, in North America, Europe and the Far East.

Mr. Jenkins' extensive experience in acquisitions, mergers, divestitures, operating and capital restructuring provides him with a unique perspective not only as a company owner and investor but also as a lender. Active roles on several boards of directors and working with leading world class management teams have strengthened his experience, creating a proven track record of enhancing company performance, balancing strategic vision with tactical execution, and driving growth in shareholder value, according to the release.

While taking a different path, Mr. Knobeloch's journey within the fresh food industry has been equally varied and successful. He learned the fresh foods trade from the ground up, first as a produce clerk and produce manager, then as a produce buyer, category manager and director of produce and floral for Schnuck Markets Inc., a privately held supermarket chain headquartered in St. Louis.

He has taken his retail procurement and merchandising expertise and expanded upon it this past decade, gaining valuable insight and experience on the supply side of the equation, holding executive management positions ranging from vice president of corporate development to vice president of sales and marketing to chief operating officer. Each of these opportunities and challenges offered him the ability to gain tremendous insight to the value added and Commodity fresh food industries. His ability to understand, identify and communicate the needs of the customers and their consumers while understanding and balancing the internal -- operational to financial -- needs of the supplier have proven invaluable assets to the companies which have benefited from his efforts, according to the release.

Mr. Knobeloch served on many produce industry association boards and has been responsible for developing many innovative product concepts that have produced substantial profit improvements for his past employers, which include, Apio and River Ranch Fresh Foods, the release concluded.