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People, week of May 2, 2011

Misionero Vegetables in Gonzales, CA, announced the addition of LARRY OLIVO to its regional sales team. He joined Misionero April 7 in a newly created regional sales manager position.

Previously, Mr. Olivo was a western regional sales manager at Mann Packing Co.

He has over 25 years of sales experience and will be responsible for strengthening Misionero’s retail and foodservice business.

“We are excited to have Larry on board,” Dan Canales, vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “Larry is well respected in the produce industry and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Misionero. Larry’s sales experience and customer service skills make him an integral part of our strategic goals.”


Gold Coast Packing in Santa Maria, CA, hired MATT WITCHER as director of procurement. He has more than 16 years experience in the fresh produce industry, the last six as a general partner with Reliable Produce Sourcing LLC in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Prior to his time with Reliable, Mr. Witcher spent seven years at Apio Inc., starting as a quality-assurance inspector before working his way up into a sales position with Apio’s fruit division, Pacific West Produce, in the Central Valley of California. He then advanced to Apio’s operations on the Central Coast, where he was director of procurement and field operations.

In his new role with Gold Coast Packing, Mr. Witcher will manage all procurement responsibilities, grower relations and contracts, and raw material sourcing.

“Matt is a superior addition to the Gold Coast Team,” Brent Scattini, Gold Coast’s vice president of sales, said in an April 27 press release. “His experience and knowledge will prove a significant asset to our raw product procurement operations, and assist in continuing to provide our customers with the quality and service that have become synonymous with Gold Coast Packing.”


Shaw’s Supermarkets in West Bridgewater, MA, announced in late April that LARRY WAHLSTROM is retiring from the company this spring and will be replaced by MIKE STIGERS, who most recently was regional vice president of Sterlox Food Safety, a supplier of water-based food safety solutions for perishable items such as fresh produce, floral and seafood in supermarkets. Mr. Wahlstrom, who had previously retired, had returned as Shaw’s president last summer.

“Larry has been a strong leader whose many contributions have shaped our company. We wish him well in his retirement,” Pete Van Helden, executive vice president of retail operations for Supervalu, parent company of Shaw’s and Star Market, said in a company statement. “At the same time, we’re delighted to have Mike join our company. Mike’s long and diverse history in the grocery industry makes him uniquely qualified to lead Shaw’s.”

Mr. Stigers began his grocery career in 1974 as a part-time courtesy clerk at Safeway. During the next 14 years, he served in various managerial positions before joining Jons Markets, an independent retailer based in Los Angeles. He joined PW Supermarkets in San Jose, CA, in 1999 as director of operations. He served in executive roles in operations and merchandising and was promoted to senior vice president and chief operating officer in 2003 and subsequently became chief executive officer of the independent retailer.


The California Avocado Commission, based in Irvine, announced that KEN MELBAN has been named director of issues management. He will lead a variety of industry affairs, grower communications and technical initiatives for the commission.

“Ken has been on the front line with complex issues affecting agriculture, giving him considerable interaction with regulators, environmental interest groups, farmers, labor representatives and the media,” Tom Bellamore, president of the commission, said in a press release. “We will put his expertise to good use as we fill our mission to create a more profitable market environment for the California avocado industry.”

Mr. Melban, who brings more than 14 years of agricultural leadership experience to the commission, has significant experience in working with California commodity boards in areas pertaining to research and pesticide use, having served as the statewide Spray Safe manager, and through his work for the National Grape & Wine Initiative. He also has experience working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, researchers, growers and chemical manufacturers in the identification and registration of effective crop-protection materials for California agriculture.

He was instrumental in the development of the California Potato Pest Management Strategic Plan and also served as director of crop protection services for the California Pepper Commission.

Mr. Melban earned a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational development and a master’s degree in leadership and organizational studies, both from Fresno Pacific University.


RPE, a grower-shipper of potatoes and onions based in Bancroft, WI, announced April 26 that CLAY GUSTAVESON has been hired as director of foodservice sales.

In this newly created position, Mr. Gustaveson will play a key role in further developing RPE’s foodservice business by expanding relationships with foodservice operators, national restaurant chains and broadline distributors. Key efforts will center on formalizing customer programs, creating category management tools for foodservice operators, and establishing long-term contracts with key foodservice customers.

Mr. Gustaveson’s experience includes over 20 years in the potato business in the areas of sales, research and development and field buying. Prior to joining RPE, he worked for Basic American, Sun Spiced and, most recently, Potandon Produce, where he was primarily in foodservice sales.

“As our business has grown, we found it necessary to restructure our business and separate our retail and foodservice sales so we could more functionally align with our customers,” Russell Wysocki, president and chief executive officer of RPE, said in an April 26 press release. “Clay’s understanding of the business and long-term relationships with foodservice suppliers gives him access to share the ‘Tasteful Selections’ story and offer a full-service solution for all their potato needs.”


To announce personnel changes at your company, please contact Assistant Editor Terrry Sokol at 201/986-7990, ext. 107, or Photos are encouraged.