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Eastern Produce Council

Leadership class tours New Jersey greenhouses

The fourth Eastern Produce Council (EPC) Leadership Class benefited from an informative tour of Hionis Greenhouses in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, on November 14. After the tour, participants listened to a seminar from the Rutgers University Office of Continuing Professional Education.

Seeing the diversity of plants at Hionis Greenhouses.

Tim Hionis, co-owner of Hionis Greenhouses, provided a tour for the group of the operation’s main greenhouses, currently filled with holiday poinsettias and Christmas cacti as well as other high-demand items. “My family started in 1965 with one acre,” he said. “Now we have six acres of state-of-the-art glass facilities and a total growing operation under-cover of 13 acres. Our outdoor production has expanded to over 65 acres.”

A highlight of the tour was a visit to the decorative plant house. Hionis mentioned the increase in demand for plants used in home décor, especially since the pandemic, and explained some of the other newer additions to the greenhouse product line. “The opportunity to get out in the field and see different aspects of our industry adds so much to professional development,” said Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC executive director.

Catherine DeLettera, retail account executive with Zespri, felt the tour was valuable. “Seeing the variety of plants and extensive inventory at Hionis adds to my understanding of the whole industry picture,” she said.

Left to right: Patrick Hallock, Four Seasons Produce; Shawn Wen, Zespri; John Carapella, Jr., Sierra Produce; Catherine DeLettera, Zespri; Garett Sebor, Key Food Stores; Kate Watson, The Oppenheimer Group; Dan Oettinger, JOH Metro; Krystal McCusker, The Oppenheimer Group; Louis Getzelman, Canyon Sales Company LLC; Olga Welch, Rutgers, Tim Hionis and Susan McAleavey Sarlund of EPC.

After the tour, the class explored how to improve skills in leading and coaching with Lacey Alexander, a Rutgers University Adjunct Instructor. Much of Alexander’s presentation focused on listening, asking powerful questions, being curious, and promoting growth. “I learned a lot about active listening, team building, the internal psyche of employees, and how it all works together to address challenges in day-to-day business,” said Dan Oettinger, retail supervisor, JOH.

The EPC Leadership Program chooses up to 20 produce professionals for each Leadership Class, a professional development experience for those with less than ten years of experience in the industry. Participants in this year’s program include Mohammed Bouzaidi, Global Fresh Vision LLC; John Carapella, Jr., Sierra Produce; Shanna Deegan, Suja Juice; Catherine DeLettera, Zespri; Louis Getzelman, Canyon Sales Company LLC; Patrick Hallock, Four Seasons Produce; Brendan Haslam, Bolthouse Farms; Peter Machala, Wakefern Food Corp.; Krystal McCusker, The Oppenheimer Group; Juliet Moran, Suja Juice; Noelle Neary, Wakefern Food Corp.; Dan Oettinger, JOH Metro; Garett Sebor, Key Food Stores; Kate Watson, The Oppenheimer Group; and Shawn Wen, Zespri. Also participating in the tour were McAleavey Sarlund and Olga Welch of Rutgers.

For more information:
Susan McAleavey Sarlund
Eastern Produce Council
Tel: +1 (908) 723-0645 

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