VANCOUVER, BC -- Two of British Columbia's leading produce companies
announced in early December an alliance designed to better serve customers
across the country in eastern Canada.
While The Oppenheimer Group's archives record transactions with B.C. Tree
Fruits Ltd. in Kelowna, BC, dating as far back as the 1930s, more recently the
two organizations have been visible partners delivering B.C.-grown apples
together to various U.S. markets. Beginning Dec. 1, the relationship took on a
new dimension, in the form of a shared staff member.
Peter Ruiter, a B.C. Tree Fruits veteran of more than two decades, will become
Oppenheimer's new sales representative based on the Ontario Food Terminal
in Toronto. Mr. Ruiter, who has sold B.C. Tree Fruits items from that location
for many years, will now market not only B.C Tree Fruits products but also the
full Oppenheimer repertoire to customers in eastern Canada.
Mr. Ruiter, whose B.C. Tree Fruits role is account manager, has relevant
experience including import sales, key account sales and branch
management. He also worked in the head office of A&P in Toronto, from 1985
to 1989, as an advertising coordinator.
"In order to expand the products we are able to offer our loyal customers in
eastern Canada, we are excited to be partnering with The Oppenheimer
Group," Rick Austin, B.C. Tree Fruit's director of sales, said in a Dec. 6 press
release. "This partnership will allow us to maintain a strong presence in the
eastern Canadian marketplace and continue to provide excellent service to
Oppenheimer, which has been serving eastern Canada via its Newark, DE,
office, had sought the right opportunity to create a physical location in
Ontario, according to Josh Leichter, the company's East Coast vice president
of sales. Considering the strong supply partnership the company has shared
with B.C. Tree Fruits over the years, the opportunity to bring Mr. Ruiter into
the Oppenheimer fold was a welcome one, he noted in the release.
In his Oppenheimer capacity, Mr. Ruiter will work closely with Walt Breeden,
Oppenheimer's western Canadian sales manager, to serve the Canadian
market with a coordinated approach, and will report to Newark-based Senior
Sales Representative Mike Kostick, who has managed the company's eastern
Canadian presence in recent years. Mr. Kostick and the team in Newark will
continue to sell to certain accounts and support Mr. Ruiter's efforts.
"Strategically, this is a great opportunity for Oppenheimer," Mr. Leichter said
in the release. "Peter is a produce veteran whose experience and relationships
will add a great deal to our approach in Eastern Canada. Toronto is Canada's
largest city by population, and a gateway to other large eastern Canadian
markets, like Montreal and Quebec. Having someone with his fingers on the
pulse of the produce terminal there will help us improve our ability to serve
our customers in this area."
Mr. Leichter also noted that this move will enable Oppenheimer to build the
market for items not currently cleared to enter the United States but which
have access to Canada.