Produce veteran Anthony Totta, who founded the consulting firm Grow My Profits, has the combination of professional qualifications and industry know-how to ensure clients receive the best return on investment by identifying the right product mix and appropriate sales strategies.
“I grew up a third-generation retailer,” Mr. Totta told The Produce News.“My father turned my grandfather’s over-the-counter store into a self-service store in downtown Kansas City before World War II. After the war, my father built a new store in Independence, Missouri. I grew up working there and at my aunt’s Italian restaurant, V’s Italiano. So I became familiar with the foodservice and retail grocery industries as the same time.”
As a teenager, Mr. Totta grew his own two-acre garden, half of which was planted to tomatoes.
“My grandfather, Tony Barber, taught me how to garden and grow vegetables, and worked alongside me at 80-plus years old,” he said. “We enjoyed a very close relationship.”
With this love of gardening, it had been Mr. Totta’s dream to become a grower-farmer. “After going to a state college as an ag major for one semester, I realized going into farming from scratch with no inherited land and no inherited equipment was not going to be possible,” he said. “So I went to work in my dad’s store. Of course, the produce department had my attention as I loved fruits and vegetables, and it was the closest thing to growing I could get at the time.”
During this same time, Mr. Totta was born again, moving to South Carolina for school and focusing on learning the Bible and church history.
“While in school, I worked for Ingles and Family Mart,” he said. “Those chains taught me a totally different side of the grocery business. It was a good learning experience.”
Upon his return to Kansas City, Mr. Totta began working for Pisciotta Fruit & Vegetable Co. in sales and merchandising. “I was successful as I knew the retail business and how to help our customers build sales,” he said.
He later worked for Gallo Produce in a similar capacity.
Mr. Totta eventually became the produce director for Affiliated Foods of Ellwood, KS. “I was given the latitude to revamp their program, and we had a 42-percent growth in sales average over three years,” he said.
He also worked with Idaho potato grower Blaine Larsen, helping sales catch up with production.
“I had the itch to start my own deal at 39 years old,” he continued. “Blaine sent me off with a nice severance package, and I started Market Fresh Produce Co.”
After seven years developing business for Market Fresh Produce, the company’s business partners acquired Mr. Totta’s portion.
“At that point I took a few months, reaching deep into my soul and reviewing the path of my career and really identifying the passions that drove me and the gifts God has given me,” he recalled.
With the encouragement of his wife, Mr. Totta created Grow My Profits LLC. “We work with our clients to identify their core values, core competencies, brand them and develop strategies to communicate their brand to the industry,” he said.
During its second year of operation, Grow My Profits became the incubator for FreshXperts LLC, a consortium of experienced industry experts who provide a wide variety of consulting services throughout the supply chain of the fresh produce industry.
“We have become a one-stop shop, if you will, helping clients in areas such as branding, merchandising, cold chain management, organizational governance, development of social media strategy, new product development, ripening, e-commerce and new venture and product launches,” he said.
Grow My Profits currently is in its sixth year of operation, and FreshXperts is in its fifth year.