Fruit Patch's new COO addresses the company's future
by Rand Green | January 18, 2011
DINUBA, CA -- Doug Reader, chief financial officer of Fruit Patch Inc., here,
and its sister company Fruit Patch Sales LLC was recently named chief
operating officer in addition to his responsibilities as CFO.
The announcement was made in a Fruit Patch press release Dec. 29, just days
after the Dec. 20 departure of the company's president, Scott Wallace,
although Mr. Reader told The Produce News that he had been designated COO
before Mr. Wallace left. Reasons for Mr. Wallace's departure were not
The Produce News had the opportunity Jan. 11 to sit down with Mr. Reader and
talk with him about the recent changes in the company and about its future
Regarding personnel, he said that an executive search is now underway for a
new president as well as for a new vice president of sales to replace Sheri
Mierau, who left and relocated to Southern California following her wedding in
September. "We are expecting to have final candidates that we can look at by
the end of January" and will hopefully have both positions filled by the end of
February, he said.
Since American Capital acquired Fruit Patch in 2006, the company has had
three different presidents and four different people heading the sales
organization. But those changes have been "just at the leadership level," said
Mr. Reader, who has been with the company for two seasons. "We have had a
very strong core group of salespeople here for quite a while." Tina Haga, who
handles export sales, has been with Fruit Patch for 19 years, he said. "Mike
Crookshanks has been with the company for a number of years. Mike Hatcher
has now gone through a couple of seasons with us." Jeannine Martin, who
joined the sales team last year, is still on board as well, "so when you look at
the core group, it is a pretty solid group there."
American Capital "has shown incredible commitment to the company," he
said. "There have been $5 million invested in the plant in the last three years.
American Capital has stood behind the company to support its financing
needs," including lending $10 million to growers last year.
Fruit Patch "clearly has a long history in stone fruit and has done a great job
in stone fruit," and the company is now involved in pomegranates and citrus
as well, which are run on a recently installed packingline. The line has been
running citrus since November and will continue through March. "The line is
running well," he said.
Looking ahead to the 2011 stone fruit season, Mr. Reader said that he expects
the company's grower base "to increase slightly," as "we have some new
growers that have already indicated they want to join us for the upcoming
season, and I am not aware of any growers that we are going to lose."
With all it has going for it, "we believe this company has a long bright future,"
Mr. Reader said that his responsibilities as COO include operations, quality
assurance and grower relations and recruitment, all of which he was already
involved in before being given his new title. "It is not really anything different
than I have been doing for quite a while," he said.
Before joining Fruit Patch, he spent seven years "in a similar position" with an
Idaho company that processed "individually quick frozen" onions, potatoes
and peppers. Before that, he was with Coca Cola for seven years, part of that
time as area vice president for the St. Louis market.