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 matches buyers and sellers in unique on-line service

by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar | July 14, 2010
With more than three decades of experience in produce sales and distribution, George Dziak, head of GD Fresh Distribution Inc. in Clackamas, OR, knows how to move fresh product efficiently between source and receiver.

In recent years, however, Mr. Dziak has seen an increase in the number of shippers with single truckloads or carloads of produce to be handled, and he told The Produce News that moving those smaller quantities can be problematic.

While GD Fresh has been able to move the product in most cases, the time- cost equation has not always been profitable. But it was inspirational.

"I often thought, 'I wish I could just push a button and sell the product,'" Mr. Dziak said. And now he can, using a service he conceived and recently introduced on-line at

Matching buyers and sellers on a unique web site geared specifically to the produce industry and encompassing more than 50 items from apples to zucchini, ProduceOverload is a centralized electronic marketplace that keeps product fresh by limiting postings to 72 hours.

Mr. Dziak said that initial emphasis will be on domestic shipments, although ultimately the service will work to link shippers and receivers around the globe.

Designed by Enginehaus Studios in Seattle, the site provides a comprehensive list of fresh items, and by clicking on an item, a shipper or buyer can post a detailed want-to-sell or want-to-buy listing through a proprietary and intuitive search engine and messaging system.

Mr. Dziak explained that the postings can be removed "immediately if a buyer and a seller connect on the first contact."

The poster needs only to cancel the post as "mission accomplished," he said. "If there is no immediate response, then the post is taken off after 72 hours," he said.

Mr. Dziak went on to say that prior to the removal, the poster will be reminded periodically that the message will be taken down, allowing for a repost and no lost time.

The site is accessible around the clock, and, as stated on the home page, there "is no middle man, and there are no complicated transactions fees." Small growers and major corporations are subject to the same fee structure, which includes a free 30-day trial.

"The beauty of our site is the cost," Mr. Dziak said. "Who can afford not to be on there?"

The produce veteran joked that it was "laziness" that led him to ProduceOverload, although efficiency is inherent to his background as a distributor of potatoes, onions, tomatoes, melons and pineapples.

"Really, the concept for ProduceOverload is not new," he said, citing as "a parallel." Mr. Dziak also cited and said that the site is another example of successful e-commerce.

Still, Mr. Dziak described himself as old-school and said that he leaves the high-tech applications to the webmaster and also to his son, Michael, whose Enhanced Video Images operation has assisted in site development.

"I come from a background of produce distribution," Mr. Dziak said. GD Fresh was started in the early 1990s, but he began operations in 1960 in Montana, where he bought potatoes and then transported them and sold them in Washington state.

After several years of selling Montana spuds to Washington receivers and returning with Washington goods for Montana receivers, Mr. Dziak moved his family to Spokane, WA, and continued his distribution operation across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountain region and the Northwest.

GD Fresh's Clackamas, OR, offices opened with the Dziak family's move to the Portland, OR, region in 1992.

"Initially, we went direct to retail," he said of sales. But as the retail market segment consolidated, GD Fresh began selling more to cooperatives and member warehouse groups. Today it distributes direct to major wholesale and foodservice distributors and continues to handle its five major items, sourcing mainly domestically but supplemented with some product from Mexico and pineapples from offshore sources.

"We pride ourselves on knowing where to find the best quality at the best pricing," he said.