Pierre Dolbec didn’t set out to work in produce, but from buying and sales to growing and distributing, he has experienced the industry from all angles.
Dolbec is vice president of sales and procurement for Veg Pro International in Sherrington, Quebec.
He initially was interested in graphic communications but began his career in produce after accepting a summer sales job, suggested by his uncle.
“I was surprised because I didn’t think I would like it, but I really got a passion for the fast-paced industry,” said Dolbec, 55.
A few years later, he moved to Provigo’s Provi-Fruit Division in Quebec City and was transferred to Montreal, where he had a hard time adjusting.
“It was tough to adapt to a new city and a new job, but I stuck through it. If there was ever a time I had doubts, that was it,” he said.
Now, those doubts are long gone, and Dolbec has no regrets.
His experiences have taught him that every relationship in the industry is important.
After serving as sales manager, buyer and ultimately head buyer and category manager at Provigo, Dolbec became director of produce procurement for Hudon & Deaudelin, which was later acquired by Sobeys.
There, Dolbec hired Pat Calabretta, now senior director merchandising at Montreal-based Metro Inc.
“He taught me the importance of a two-way relationship. He saw relationships with vendors as a partnership,” Calabretta said.
Dolbec says that attitude led to his multiple career experiences, which led him to his current position on the grower side of the business.
He had a quarter of a century’s worth of experience in the industry before making the switch to growing instead of buying and selling..
Ten years into this new arena, Dolbec has no plans to make another career change at this point. He says he still has too much to learn and experience where he is.
“I’m just scratching the surface. There are still so many opportunities and so much to do at the company right now,” he said.
He hasn’t totally given up his dream of a career in graphic design. Store designs, retail layouts, and the creative process of growing produce have all been affected by that passion.
“I think I have a creative side that has stayed with me and helped give me a visual sense of things,” he said.