Personnel moves fortify Oppenheimer's organic and East Coast operations

In early October, The Oppenheimer Group welcomed Barry Parisotto to its Los Angeles sales team. He fills the newly created position of organics category manager for the Vancouver, BC-based marketer. And, sales representative Josh Leichter was promoted to become Oppenheimer's director of sales-East Coast, another new position.

"Expanding our organic product line has been part of our strategic vision for a long time," John Anderson, Oppenheimer's president, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Barry's expertise can help take us to the next level."

Oppenheimer is already a category leader in organic apples from New Zealand, and the company offers steady supplies of Zespri organic kiwifruit from New Zealand in the summer and fall.

Recently, Oppenheimer added greenhouse-grown organic Beefsteak tomatoes from South Alder Greenhouses' facility in Langley, BC, to its product offerings. South Alder will expand production in the spring to include tomatoes-on-the- vine and multi-colored sweet bell peppers along with increased volumes of organic Beefsteak tomatoes.

Oppenheimer is also debuting a new organic tomato pack at PMA in Atlanta.

"As organic category manager, I will continue to build Oppenheimer's organic product range, developing new opportunities for our existing grower base," Mr. Parisotto said.

"I will also introduce new products and sources, building breadth and scope to the organic category with Oppenheimer's strong brand name."

With nearly 10 years of experience in sourcing, selling and marketing organics, Mr. Parisotto is an active member of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council. Most recently, Mr. Parisotto served as a national sales manager for Melissa's/World Variety Produce in Vernon, CA, and previously was director of procurement for Melissa's and a national category buyer for Safeway in Pleasanton, CA. He began his career with the American Produce Co. in Los Angeles shortly after graduating from Arizona State University, where he majored in business and marketing. In his life before produce, Mr. Parisotto played professional baseball as a pitcher in the minor league system for the Oakland Athletics, Florida Marlins and L.A. Dodgers. He was voted Rookie of the Year by the Dodgers in 1989 and represented Canada in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

"While playing pro ball, I learned that the right attitude and consistency is the key to any team's success," Mr. Parisotto said. "The same is true in produce, where all different types of people in various situations, handling different pressures, work together to achieve a common goal."

Meanwhile, Mr. Leichter, Oppenheimer's new director of sales-East Coast, soon will be coordinating the sales and marketing force in Oppenheimer's Eastern offices, in Wilmington, DE, Chicago and Tampa, FL. He will report to Gerry Smirniotis, vice president-East Coast.

Mr. Leichter joined Oppenheimer in June 2002 as a sales representative in the company's Los Angeles office. This December, he will relocate to Wilmington, DE, to work more closely with the East Coast sales and marketing team. "Josh Leichter's attention to detail and easygoing persistence have been key to building sales for our West Coast operations," said Mr. Anderson. "His positive interpersonal style combined with proactive produce aptitude and strategic abilities will make him a valuable resource to the East Coast team."

Mr. Leichter has close to 15 years of produce industry experience. Prior to Oppenheimer, he worked in sales, project management and food distribution logistics positions for Orlando, FL-based World Commerce Online, F.P.D. Inc. in Sherman Oaks, CA, and C.H. Robinson Co. in Eden Prairie, MN.

Mr. Leichter said that while he's enjoyed being part of the Los Angeles community, he's looking forward to the move east.

"I spent a year in Chicago right after graduating college from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, and I've also lived in Orlando, FL, and Raleigh, NC," said Mr. Leichter. "My wife, Nancy, is excited to move to the East Coast. She went to school in Ithaca, NY, and still has a lot of good friends in New York and Boston."

Mr. Leichter said that he's also looking forward to enjoying some fly- and deep-sea fishing in the Delaware waters.

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