Produce wholesaler M. Levin and Co. Inc., Philadelphia, was recently recognized by the Philadelphia Inquirer with a 2018 Multi-Generational Family Business Award. Family members here stand in front of one of the double-capacity ripening rooms at the company. ( Courtesy M. Levin and Co. )

Four Seasons makes staff changes

The Ephrata, Pa.-based Four Seasons Family of Cos. made a number of changes in leadership May 1, with general manager Jason Hollinger taking the role of president, the company reported in a news release.

Hollinger joined Four Seasons in 1999 as an organic buyer and has since been promoted to director of buying and then the general manager. He reports to CEO Ron Carkoski.

Other changes:

  • Director of sales Jonathan Steffy became vice president and general manager of Four Seasons Produce and reports to Hollinger.
  • Wayne Hendrickson succeeded Steffy as sales director, also reporting to Hollinger.
  • Traci Sensenig is the new wholesale sales manager.
  • Daniel Quier is retail sales manager.
  • Bruce Meidinger has been retail services manager since Jan. 1.

Steffy has been at Four Seasons since 2000, as a pricing coordinator, then lead retail sales representative, foodservice sales manager, retail and wholesale sales manager and most recently, director of sales and retail services.

Hendrickson joined the company in 2007 as a wholesale salesman and took over the wholesale sales manager position in 2014.

Sensenig has been at the company since 2002 in a variety of roles, most recently as a wholesale  saleswoman.

Quier joined Four Seasons in 2006, and has been a retail salesman, pricing coordinator and senior pricing and programs coordinator.

Meidinger started with the company in 2015 as a merchandiser.

Virginia “Ginny” Williams became business development manager Jan. 1. She first worked at Four Seasons in 2005, as office manager, then moved to Four Season’s sister company, Earth Source Trading, to work in sales. She recently returned to Four Seasons after Wendell Hahn retired.


John Vena Inc. continues to grow

The staff at Philadelphia-based produce distributor John Vena Inc. has grown 30% over the last year, said Emily Kohlhas, marketing director.

“We’re so excited to have a new cohort of young people coming on board to join our industry vets, some of whom have been with the company for more than 25 years,” she said.

On the operations side, Vena has added than 8,000 additional square feet and is scouting for more space, Kohlhas said.

“Transportation has had to come along with that — we’ve been delivering (to) select customers for years, but it’s a service we’re beginning to offer to a wider audience,” she said.

During this past year, Vena earned organic-certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-accredited organic certifying agency and trade association, Kohlhas said.

“We have all the certifications and infrastructure we need in place to serve everyone from a mom-and-pop shop to a national processor with organic product,” she said.

In 2019, Vena will mark its 100th anniversary in business, Kohlhas said.

“All the growth has been a great way to gear up for our 100th anniversary next year,” she said.


M. Levin & Co. expands on market

Philadelphia wholesaler M. Levin & Co. has expanded into two more units and added ripening rooms to its business on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, said Mark Levin, co-owner.

The company, currently occupying six units on the market, now has 14 ripening rooms, “but they’re double the capacity, so it’s like having 28,” he said.

M. Levin & Co. primarily ripens bananas, as well as avocados and pears, Levin said.


MORE: M. Levin recognized for innovation, growth in Philly


Market partners with Philabundance

Philabundance, the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley, continues to rescue produce every Friday at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, said Christine Hoffman, the market’s marketing coordinator.

“In a little over a year, they are close to gleaning 1 million pounds of fruits and veggies that go directly to hungry people in our region,” Hoffman said.

“Rather than seeing the produce go to waste, the generous merchants at the (market) donate to the Produce Rescue Center, whose goal it is to have 80% useable product for their various programs throughout the nine-county area they serve.”

The market opened the Dock Street Café, which it runs, in early June, Hoffman said.


T.M. Kovacevich adds food safety manager

Lori Testa has joined Philadelphia-based wholesaler T.M. Kovacevich-Philadelphia Inc. as food safety manager, said Tom Kovacevich, president.

Testa is PCQI-certified and trained in third-party audits and the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety rule and will be maintaining and enforcing the company’s food safety plan, Kovacevich said.

Kovacevich-Philadelphia also is launching an efficiency initiative, Kovacevich said.

“One important area of focus is finding an inventory-management solution,” he said.

“We are seeking the newest solutions for inventory location tracking, hoping to speed our order selecting process. We are looking into a scan gun and bar code system but, frankly, this seems so 1980s. Anyone out there using or selling the ‘next’ technology in inventory location tracking? We are all ears.”