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‘Insane Wayne’ has a soft side

CHICAGO — He shows tomato tattoos on each arm and introduces himself as “Insane Wayne.”

Otherwise known as Wayne Passoff, his tomato company, Wayne’s World Inc., began operations on the Chicago International Produce Market in the first week of May.

The 54-year old said that he is a native of Englishtown, NJ, and is a third-generation tomato man. He moved to Chicago a decade ago after his father died. After working for other Chicago produce houses, “I decided I wanted to take my talents and experience in the tomato business and go on my own,” he said.

He has been a tomato man for 35 years and noted that Wayne’s World is a fitting name for the company. “This is basically a one-man band. It is my own little world, centered around packing perfection. We are going to expand to repacking and foodservice to give the foodservice end an alternative in Chicago,” he said.

He repcked a tomato box as he talked to The Produce News. He challenged customers with barbs as fervently as he initially queried a reporter about his business.

“At Wayne’s World, we are the best and want to remain as the primary or secondary source of tomatoes, with the pampering and care the customer deserves. Like Avis … we try harder at Wayne’s World Inc.”

He said that customers must make money when working with him “or you’ll never see them again.” Furthermore, he noted that in his business, “It’s the farmer that has to drive the Lincoln first. Without a farmer, you’ve got no business. Then, without a customer you have no business.”

Showing a softer side that isn’t immediately apparent on first impression, Mr. Passoff added, “I love people and it’s the people that make the produce business.”