Vision Import sharpens focus with key additions to sales team

HACKENSACK, NJ — Vision Import Group, an importer-distributor of tropical fruits specializing in limes, lemons, mangos and pineapples, has announced key additions to its sales team as it embarks on a growth phase.

Eddie Perez, a produce sales and management veteran, and Mike Rodriguez, who honed his craft in sales and quality control in the Rio Grande Valley, joined the company in early May. Perez will be based at the company’s headquarters office, here, while Rodriguez will work from Vision’s facility in Pharr, TX.Vision-sales-teamAt Vision Import Group’s headquarters office in Hackensack, NJ, on May 14 were members of the company’s sales team, including Angela Aronica, director of sales; Tony Mitchell, vice president of sales and business development; Eddie Perez, senior sales manager; Yen-Han Wuu, account manager; and Mike Rodriguez, sales manager. Photo by John Groh.

The two new hires join Tony Mitchell, who came on board earlier this year as vice president of sales and business development, and Angela Aronica, who was recently promoted to sales director for the company. Also, part of the team is Yen-Han Wuu, a sales associate who has been with Vision Import for nearly four years.

“We are extremely pleased to add Eddie and Mike to our sales team,” said Ronnie Cohen, a principal at Vision Import along with Raul Millan. “They each bring a unique skill set that will be an ideal complement for us as we look to grow our business.”

Perez comes to Vision Import after spending 18 years at Del Monte Fresh Produce’s Philadelphia operation, where for the last nine years he was general manager. Prior to that, he spent nine years as district sales manager.

“At Del Monte, I was involved with everything, from managing the sales team to allocations to logistics,” said Perez. “My extensive background sets me up for success at Vision Import and I am excited to be a part of the team.”

“With his experience, Eddie can do it all for us,” said Cohen. “And we’ll also be looking for him to help develop some of the younger folks we have working here.”

While Perez is new to Vision Import Group, he has a long history with both Cohen and Millan. Perez and Millan worked together at Havana Potato in the mid-1980s, and Perez worked with Cohen from 1992 to 1997 at Cohen Marketing International, the Hunts Point-based wholesaler operated by Cohen’s late father, Ira.

“Eddie and my father were very tight,” said Cohen. “In many ways it’s like a homecoming for him to be joining us. We have a long history together, and I look forward to adding to that history. His vast network of contacts will blend into our existing structure perfectly.”

In Rodriguez, Vision Import is getting a solid presence in its Texas office. After beginning his career in Michigan at SMP Marketing, where he worked in the warehouse handling northern veg, tomatoes, hard squash, cucumbers, green beans and corn, Rodriguez moved to SMP’s Edinburg, TX, office, where he worked in the warehouse and handled packing and quality control for cantaloupes, watermelons, apples, zucchini, kale, cabbage and other greens.

Rodriguez joined London Fruit Co. in 2005 and worked from the company’s Pharr, TX, office, where he handled sales and procurement teams of mangos, limes, avocados, grape tomatoes, papayas and jackfruit. At Vision, Rodriguez will concentrate on maintaining current business as well as prospecting new business from the Rio Grande Valley.

“Mike’s perspective in the Valley is a big advantage for us,” said Cohen. “He is originally from Rio Bravo, Mexico, and grew up in Weslaco, so he is very familiar with the area and how things operate there. We are very excited to welcome him on board.”

“With my experience in operations, and especially quality control, I will be able to keep customers satisfied and help Vision Import grow the business,” said Rodriguez. “I feel that I can connect with many different types of ethnic cultures to help us expand our reach.”

Still relatively new to Vision Import but a longtime veteran in the produce industry, Mitchell has taken on a key leadership role and will be tapping into his extensive contact list while helping to grow the company.

Mitchell worked in sales and procurement at Caito Foods for 25 years before moving over to SpartanNash, where he spent two years in sales and procurement, and account management.

“Tony is like the mayor,” said Cohen. “He knows everyone and has a likeability factor that makes you want to work with him.”

“At the end of the day, it’s all about people,” said Mitchell, who is based in his home area of Indianapolis, but travels regularly to the main office. “Our industry is all about relationships, and that is a big part of my business philosophy. If you can build relationships, there are endless possibilities for business. We have two great new guys joining us, and we have some younger folks that are coming along wonderfully, so our potential is unlimited.”

Aronica has already made her mark during her relatively short tenure at the company, having recently been promoted to sales director. A graduate of Penn State University with a degree in ag science and a minor in ag communications, Aronica joined Vision Import in October 2017 after a brief stint in sales for another industry. She now leads a sales team and develops and maintains partnerships.

But Aronica, who hails from Erie, PA, was first introduced to the produce industry at a very young age, as her father worked for some of the top apple grower-shippers in the Northwest.

“My father has been in the business for more than 40 years, and I have a lot of memories of going with him to trade shows and other produce industry events,” she said. “I really liked what he was doing, and he is my inspiration for pursuing a degree in agriculture and joining the produce industry.”

Aronica also draws inspiration from the Lean Into Leadership program for women conducted by industry veteran Wendy McManus, who runs a consultancy called Connect 2 Potential.

“There are eight women in the class, and we participate in one-on-one and group sessions, where we address issues that come up in business and Wendy coaches us through them,” she said. “Topics revolve around specific day-to-day experiences, and we get together on Skype and discuss the best way to handle them. It’s an extremely valuable experience, and it has really helped me to grow in the business.”

Cohen agreed that Aronica has benefited greatly from the program, but said he is not surprised with her rapid rise at the company.

“Angela is a very sharp young woman who is motivated and relates well to our customers,” he said. “She has been a great asset to our company, and we look forward to her helping continue to grow our business.”

Wuu, who has worked in sales at Vision for nearly four years, brings a business management background, with an expertise in e-commerce, along with a youthful energy, to the sales office. The New York City native, a former dual-sport athlete at Division II Pace University, is adept at networking and enjoys the dynamic nature and the action of the produce industry.

“No two days are alike, and I enjoy using my business acumen to come up with solutions,” he said. “I also really enjoy the sales aspect of the job and always trying to push the limit to maximize sales.”

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