(Aug. 30) FRESNO, Calif. — After more than a decade, one of two brothers who launched RJO Produce Marketing is leaving as president to become vice president of produce for Topco Associates Inc., a retail buying cooperative based in Skokie, Ill.
Rob O’Rourke, who co-founded Fresno-based RJO with his brother, John, as RJO Produce Distributing in 1993, said he would take up his responsibilities at Topco’s main office in Skokie in early September. There, he said, he will be in charge of the entire produce division for the 51-member cooperative and will direct the co-op’s buying offices in Visalia and West Palm Beach, Fla.
“It’s really tough to leave, but what Topco has to offer is a very exciting opportunity,” Rob O’Rourke said. “There’s a lot of things that I’ll be able to do with Topco that I would not be able to do with RJO.”
One of those things will be working with a wide range of retailers, O’Rourke added.
“I’ll have the exposure of working with those retailers and be able to work with a lot of different types of retailers throughout their membership,” he said.
John O’Rourke, RJO’s vice president, will take over as president of the company, which the pair founded as an independent seasonal buying office in five commodity groups — strawberries, stone fruit, grapes, citrus and melons, primarily from California and Arizona.
The brothers changed the company’s name and logo in 2000, switching to a more global and year-round emphasis, as the company began to procure Chilean tree fruit and grapes, Florida strawberries and melons out of Central America.