New owners of Art of Produce, John Becroft and Aldo Di Cesare are old hands in terms of experience in the industry. In fact, their passion for produce has brought both out of semi-retirement back into the world of early morning auctions, packing, delivering and dealing directly with their customers.
John started in the industry almost half a century ago, working in the family glasshouse in Henderson during the holidays and after school from the age of 10. He has remained in the industry for most of the time since, having been a grower of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, strawberries and beans and serving as a manager, director, board member, investor and consultant with several organisations.
“In the produce industry you need to be fast thinking and solution focused,” says John.
“I’ve always concentrated on building strong relationships and making sure the operational aspects work well. With the support of our team at Art of Produce, I’m enjoying the challenge of achieving that.”
John has been a client of Bruce Sheppard since the early 1980s when Bruce was working as an accountant by himself part-time.
Aldo Di Cesare has been in the industry for more than three decades, starting as manager of a number of Woolworths stores (then owned by LD Nathan Ltd) in Auckland. His commercial growing experience spans two decades in seedling nursery production, hydroponic lettuce manufacture, fresh herbs and bananas. Like John, Aldo has had a number of roles as a manager, director, owner and troubleshooter in the industry.
After ending a five and half-year stint as Managing Director of Ecopac in mid-2010, the thought of relaxing seemed appealing … for a while. But both missed the pace of production and are glad to be back.
“Taking over a business like this means getting back to the roots of our industry, where you’re dealing face-to-face with customers, which I enjoy,” says Aldo.
Gilligan Sheppard went through the accounts of Art of Produce before the pair bought into the business and assisted them with advice
Both John and Aldo have a ton of experience and still retain that enthusiasm which is too valuable to waste. They’re back in business, full of ideas and are determined to turn it into a fine art … of produce.
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