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Four Seasons enlists Maggie Bezart for marketing overhaul

Ephrata, PA-based Four Seasons Produce Co. has enlisted the services of produce industry veteran Maggie Bezart to help recast the company's image and marketing efforts.

Ronald Carkoski, president and chief executive officer of Four Seasons, said that Ms. Bezart's company -- Maggie Bezart Marketing Services -- would help the full-service wholesaler by providing a fresh vision for the company. Ms. Bezart's wealth of marketing experience and accomplishments make her a valuable asset in bolstering Four Seasons' business on a number of fronts, with the possibility of doubling the firm's business, Mr. Carkoski said.

Ms. Bezart will help with corporate identity branding, suggested selling tools, strategies for increasing sales, products and services, and upgrading the company's image such as by improving its web site. Mr. Carkoski said that Four Seasons is focusing on five target areas: redefining its level of excellence; revenue growth; cost containment; growth of its personnel; and current and future growth as a company. The company expects to begin implementing improvements in the first quarter of 2006, Mr. Carkoski said. Ms. Bezart referred to her services for Four Seasons as a "12- to 18-month program."

Under the main company umbrella -- Four Seasons Produce -- is Four Seasons Trading Co. and Four Seasons Logistics Co. Mr. Carkoski said that the plan is to create a separation of the import and brokerage companies into their own operating groups.

"We'll hire a general manager for our logistics business," Mr. Carkoski said. "It will be its own business."

Ms. Bezart called Four Seasons "one of the most vertically integrated wholesalers" in the industry. Four Seasons is a repacker for Sunkist and has its own full organics line. The company also packs for private labels.

Four Seasons has its own truck fleet and services companies up and down the Eastern Seaboard and as far west as Ohio.

"[Four Seasons] was looking for a fresh vision and increased customer base," and is looking to recruit talent, Ms. Bezart said. Mr. Carkoski and Ms. Bezart have known each other via the produce industry for many years and he believes that, among other things, she can help Four Seasons expand its business farther west. Four Seasons has an aggressive growth goal that can include growth through acquisition, Mr. Carkoski said.

"Maggie knows where the bones are buried," Mr. Carkoski said. "She knows the industry -- people respect her."

Ms. Bezart said that she already feels like a member of the Four Seasons team and that Four Seasons, which will mark its 30th year in business this June, has "such a great level of communication." Mr. Carkoski pointed to an independent survey that showed that 95 percent of Four Seasons' employees "felt they significantly contribute to the company's growth."

In mid-April 2005, Ms. Bezart left a high-profile position as vice president of marketing and sales for Castroville, CA-based Ocean Mist Farms and later founded her marketing service, which is aimed at the fresh produce industry.

Ms. Bezart partnered with Salinas, CA-based FreeStyle Communications Inc. and Los Angeles-based Raess Design. FreeStyle is a full-service advertising, marketing, graphic design and web site development agency. Raess Design is a full-service graphics house that provides high-end graphic design such as that which may be used for packaging, in contrast with Freestyle's graphic design that is more geared toward advertising.