Andrew Scott is looking forward to doing a little preaching at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in New Orleans, Oct. 18-20. For the past two decades, the industry has known Scott as a go-to produce guy in Atlanta and in recent years for his leadership role in the Southeast Produce Council, which he currently serves as president.
Scott recently joined Superior Sales Inc. in Hudsonville, MI, as vice president of sales and marketing. Though he will remain in Atlanta (and have an office at the company’s partner J&R Baker Farms in Norman Park, GA) he believes his affiliation with a company based outside the Southeast is an excellent opportunity to expand his knowledge base and circle of connections.
Scott is already on the road visiting Superior’s customer base and digging up new business. At the Fresh Summit, he will be making the rounds to greet old friends and meet new ones in his new role.
“I’ll be traveling now through February or March, all the way up into the Northeast and Midwest,” Scott said. “I don’t know a lot of those areas, so that will be new for me. I’m looking forward to touching our customer base and talking with others I know in the industry about what Superior brings to the table. We’re leveling up.”
Superior has been around since 1918 as a year-round supplier of premium fruits and vegetables, but, with operations in six states, the company is firmly focused on the future. Superior has offices in Hudsonville and Ann Arbor, MI, Salinas and Kingsburg, CA, Walla Walla, WA, San Antonio, TX, Nogales, AZ, and now Atlanta and Norman Park.
From mainstream favorites like corn, cabbage, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and squash to niche items like pie pumpkins and ornamentals — obvious hot items this time of year — Superior provides a full line of premium fruit and vegetables, including its own private premium label grape and citrus line “Molly’s Sun Select,” for retail, wholesale and foodservice.
Superior traces its roots as a grower-shipper of Michigan vegetables to 1918. Originally a family owned company, Superior has grown over the last 93 years into a diversified produce shipping, packing, repacking and sales organization. Superior originally focused on celery grown by the Blauwkamp family. With incorporation and expansion in the early sixties, the Blauwkamp family began handling other local growers’ commodities. A 30,000-square -foot distribution center soon followed. Sales increased throughout the Midwest and Southern destination points. Superior increased its capabilities to include packaging of celery for private labels and its own “Superior” label.
Randy Vande Guchte, who bought the operation in 1993, has dramatically expanded the product line, as well as the areas it services and sources from.
“Randy is very hands-on, he works from seven in the morning ‘til five in the afternoon or later when needed, talking to customers, dispatching trucks — whatever it takes,” Scott said. “He works it, he pounds the phones and never lets up. I like working with somebody like that.”
Not only is Superior progressive in its business practices, the company is also focused on food safety and sustainability.
Superior is “completely dialed in” when it comes to food safety, fully PTI-compliant and GTIN-certified, with a near-perfect PrimusGFS score, Scott said. And in 2010, according to the Michigan Environmental Savings Report, the company saved 2,517 trees by recycling 148.03 net tons of corrugated paper products and other efforts managed to conserve 1,036,210 gallons of water, 11,694 gallons of oil, more than 488 cubic yards of landfill space, and kept more than 8,882 pounds of air pollution effluents out of the air. That same year, Superior gave Feeding America’s West Michigan Food Bank over 125,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables.
“People need to know what we’re doing and know more about us and there’s a lot to tell,” Scott said. “Some companies follow the vegetable deal through the Northeast — we follow it through Ohio and Michigan. We have people on the ground in California, Texas, Arizona, Washington and Michigan. Now our Southeastern location pretty much covers the last base.”
“It’s time for me to go chase business, talk to customers, shake out some new business and really start building the Superior brand and talking about what goes behind that brand,” Scott added. “What do we bring to the table? It’s time for me to start telling that story.”