(March 20) SALINAS, Calif. — Asparagus grower-shipper Lee Brands LLC aims for its product expansion to make it a one-stop vegetable shop for buyers nationwide.
The firm has added radishes, cilantro, parsley, kale, daikon, spinach, brussels sprouts, celery, leeks, beets and green onions.
“Our goal is to round out our product lineup and give our customers a more efficient, hassle-free purchasing experience,” said Mike Rubidoux, vice president of sales and marketing.
Bob Cordova, hired recently as senior sales executive and mixed vegetable commodity manager, said the addition of other vegetables also gives Lee Brands some diversity when asparagus sales are slow.
Asparagus remains the anchor item with the new vegetables serving as a B line, Cordova said. Lee Brands plans to add another anchor item, broccoli, in June.
Cordova said Lee Brands did not want to compete with the big vegetable items like lettuce and celery, but rather offer niche items that complement each other.
The products are available year-round, Cordova said.
Cordova said Lee Brands would ship about 1.5 million cartons of the mixed vegetable line this year.
Along with the hiring of Cordova, Lee Brands added two others to its sales staff, John Corea as salesman for the mixed vegetable line and Robert Leonard as salesman.
Cordova came to Lee Brands from Santa Maria, where he was a sales manager with market development responsibility for Bonipak Produce Co. and Laguna Produce Sales LLC.
He had worked in produce in the Santa Maria area for more than 10 years.
Corea most recently served as assistant commodity manager for green onions and radishes at NewStar/Ceres Fresh Foods LLC, Salinas.
Leonard also comes to Lee Brands from NewStar/Ceres, where he handled supply chain management for the past four years.