If there were a spokesperson for Manitoba and its homegrown produce, it would probably be Larry McIntosh.
“He can walk into a place where you’d never expect people to know him and someone would say ‘Hey aren’t you the carrot guy?’” said Tom Byttynen, president of Calgary, Alberta-based Thomas Fresh Inc.
“He’s a very energetic and outspoken individual and his passion for the industry is unbelievable.”
McIntosh, 50, has been the president and chief executive officer of Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Peak of the Market since 1994.
Peak of the Market, a grower-owned, not-for-profit vegetable supplier, was McIntosh’s first foray into the produce industry. Before that, he worked for a discount retailer for 18 years, but never in produce.
“Come to think of it, I actually didn’t even eat my 5 to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure I’m up to 11 servings now, though. I only got started in produce when I joined Peak of the Market. However, after the last 16-plus years, I can’t imagine working in any other industry.”
Under his leadership, Peak of the Market has been named one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies three times and remains a strong presence in the community, doing numerous outreach programs.
“It is part of our philosophy to give back to the communities who have helped us become a home grown success,” McIntosh said.
Peak of the Market growers donate more than a million pounds of fresh vegetables to Manitoba Food Banks annually.
“We never want to forget those less fortunate than ourselves and help out whenever we can,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh has a gift for marketing and promotions, said Dan Dempster, president of the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association.
“Larry is one of the most out-of-the-box, energetic marketers that I have run into,” Dempster said.
“He must think about marketing every waking hour.”
Byttynen also praised McIntosh’s tireless dedication.
“Larry incorporates the name of his firm almost every time you hear him that you can’t help but think ‘Peak of the Market’ when you see him,” he said.
He also has a sense of humor and competitiveness, Byttynen said. Byttynen’s company, Thomas Fresh, marketed a miniature potato with a cartoon character called “Tommy’s Tiny Taters.”
“We started shipping them into Larry’s territory and he put a picture of himself on a potato bag and started shipping into mine,” he said.