Editor's Note: The article that follows is part of the 13th edition of The Packer 25 Profiles in Leadership. These reports offer some insight into what drives successful people in produce. Please congratulate these industry members when you see them and tell them to keep up the good work.


Chris Veillon, the new chief marketing officer for Pure Hothouse Foods, wants to hire people who love produce as much as he does.

He wants those working for him to be emotionally connected to the industry, driven by the idea of making a difference.

“You build your team with people who want to be a part of something big,” Veillon said.

Veillon came to Leamington, Ontario-based Pure Hothouse after stops at Leamington-based NatureFresh Farms and Kingsville, Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce, and he practices what he preaches when it comes to being all in on produce.

Pure Hothouse Chief operating officer Bob Donckers recalled sometimes receiving late-night group texts or e-mails from Veillon, asking what Donckers and others at the company their thoughts about a new marketing idea.

“His mind is always working,” Donckers said.

A tireless work ethic is what has gotten Veillon to this point.

“He might even consider himself a workaholic, but I think successful people in general don’t consider themselves workaholics, just that they enjoy what they do so well, it’s not a job at that point — it’s more of a passion,” Donckers said.

“He’s always evaluating what he sees with that perspective on, ‘How does this translate for tomorrow?’" he said. "I think that’s what’s made him successful.”

Veillon said Pure Hothouse, which markets under the Pure Flavor brand, will carefully evaluate its approach to social media, its packaging, its website and its community involvement.

In doing so, Veillon wants to think beyond the borders of produce.

“We can no longer think of ourselves as just being a vegetable company,” Veillon said. “We have to see ourselves as healthy lifestyle influencers because we need kids to eat more tomatoes, more cucumbers and more bell peppers, and they have to understand why.

“There’s so many cool facts that explain the health benefits, so how do we explain that?” Veillon said.

Veillon has embraced the industry in his decade working in it, participating in efforts like Eat Brighter! and others.

“His involvement in the industry overall is just him wanting to learn, him wanting to improve himself and then be able to pass that knowledge and experience on to his team,” Donckers said. “That’s the business. You have to get involved in order to learn and to know what’s going on, and to have the good connections where if you do get stuck, you’re able to reach out to people and vice versa.”

 
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