SALINAS, CA -- Gary Andreasian has been promoted to president of Growers Express, the company known as Growers Vegetable Express when he started working there more than 22 years ago as the company's fourth employee, the company announced June 6. He previously served as vice president and general manager.
In 1989, Growers Vegetable Express was formed by South Monterey County growers David Gill, Steven Gill, Johnny Gill, John Romans, Stan Pura, Mike Hitchcock, Dennis Frudden and Ron Frudden as well as head lettuce industry icon Joe Puga Sr.
The philosophy for the company was simple, it said: good farmers should build relationships and sell their crops directly to end customers to ensure the highest quality, consistency and innovation.
"I am very happy to see Gary take the position of president of Growers Express. We couldn't ask for a better situation than to have a person who is passionate, trusted and knowledgable about our industry to be responsible for our products and customers from planting through distribution," David Gill said in a June 6 press release.
"Gary's experience in understanding constantly changing market conditions allows him to keep the products moving no matter what," Thomas Tramutola of A&J Produce Corp. in New York said in the release.
Mr. Andreasian, who worked for San Miguel Produce in Oxnard, CA, before joining GVE, is credited with bringing a mixed shipper philosophy to the grower-based company. "When I first started, we only offered one type of lettuce (naked flat pack) and very limited mixed commodities," he recalled in the release. "We had three employees with two selling only lettuce, leaving mixed vegetables to me. I was responsible for building mixer business and managed all crops other than lettuce.”
He continued, "We didn't have computers for inventory control, grower accounting or invoicing. All inventories and harvested units were placed on large spreadsheets. Typewriters and telephones were the most modern equipment in the office. Our first customers were primarily wholesalers and brokers, and we had very little advance business. Every day started with a long grind to quote prices and get orders."
Mr. Andreasian remembers when the company's first computer arrived in the early 1990s. "This allowed us to provide more offerings necessary for retail direct business," he said in the release. "Our lettuce packs soon expanded to dozens, the mix program also expanded, and Growers Express quickly gained speed and became a significant supplier in a short amount of time. Obtaining the rights to the ‘Green Giant’ brand solidified our presence with retailers, and the rest is history."
"Gary has been an essential part of Growers Express' success since the company was founded 24 years ago, and if you know Gary, it's obvious why we want him to play a bigger role in our future," Mr. Pura said in the release.
In his early years at the company, Mr. Andreasian held positions such as broccoli product manager and head lettuce manager, working with field harvesters and company growers to build those programs into winners for the company, growers, retailers and consumers. Over the past five years, Mr. Andreasian served as Growers Express' sales director, vice president for sales and, most recently, vice president and general manager of the company.
"Gary is tough but fair, and it has been a pleasure getting to know Gary over the past three years as we have worked closely to successfully transition Capurro Marketing into Growers Express and become active partners in the new business," John Manfre of Capurro Farms said in the release.
"Gary's ability to be direct and trustworthy make him a great leader and manager," Jamie Strachan, chief executive officer of Growers Express, said in the release. "His experience combined with his open-minded approach will further our quest to build a better and stronger business centered on service, innovation and efficiency."
"It's certainly a different company and a different environment from when I started," the new president of Growers Express reflected. "I could not have imagined the great people, customers or the incredible ways we are servicing business today. This is a truly innovative industry and a great company to work for."