Courtesy Ben Holmes PotatoKevin Olson poses with his father and former majority owner of Ben Holmes Potato, Rodney Olson. The elder Olson recently died at 69 years old. When Kevin Olson needed to hire a salesman for his brokerage, he didn’t make the decision lightly. The man he had replace was his father.
Rodney Olson, 69, died in July. He had owned Becker, Minn.-based Ben Holmes Potato for 12 years.
The elder Olson was a certified seed potato grower for more than 30 years in North Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. When Nebraska had a huge potato crop in 1998, it put him out of the growing business.
“Everyone had a bumper crop,” Kevin Olson said. “We couldn’t give them away.”
The elder Olson soon turned to selling other growers’ potatoes and built a thriving business with his son.
“He tripled the business in size,” Kevin Olson said. “We did about 1,000 loads that first year. Now we do about 3,000.”
Rodney Olson owned 55% of the business and handled the majority of sales. Without his father to lead Ben Holmes, Kevin Olson, now the company’s sole owner, went looking for an experienced salesman.
He found what he was looking for in Lawrence Kimble.
Kimble has close to 30 years of experience in the produce industry, including two decades at Roland Marketing Inc., Fridley, Minn. During his time as a buyer at Roland Marketing, one of Kimble’s suppliers was Ben Holmes Potato.
“We used to ship them a lot of potatoes,” Kevin Olson said.
Kimble joins a sales staff that also includes Mary Hay, who works out of a branch office in Alpharetta, Ga. Hay, a former grower, has more than 20 years of experience in the produce industry.