Nov. 17, 2014, Kingsville, Ont. — Mastronardi Produce chairman Don Mastronardi has been presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA).
“Throughout the years, Donny has been an incredible influence on the produce industry,” said Frank Spagnuolo, senior category director at Loblaws.
“He is a supportive mentor to all around him, and a kind, charismatic man who people crowd around, just to be around him and hear what he has to say. He is an amazing businessman and the true Tomato Master.”
At just 25 years of age, Mastronardi was propelled into the family business after his father’s sudden passing.
His days were spent working at the family’s newly acquired Harry Becker Company in the Detroit Market from 4 a.m. to noon, returning to Leamington to sell the family’s greenhouse harvest till suppertime, as well as managing the local Chrysler dealership, Mastronardi Motors.
As a Canadian working in the North American market, he learned a lot about importing and exporting and how crucial it was to set yourself apart from the competition.
He combined these skills with his knack for unparalleled customer service to build Sunset’s reputation for high quality, flavourful produce year round, and impeccable customer service.
In the 1990s, Mastronardi sparked a movement and truly distinguished himself as a leader in the produce industry. Realizing the fragile state of the greenhouse industry, he led a cooperative sales group called Fresh Sales, which brought prosperity back to greenhouse growers.
Following that success, he further changed the industry in 1994 by building a 40-acre greenhouse, the largest single greenhouse at the time and the first of its kind in North America.
Just one year later, he launched Campari® Brand Tomatoes, the most recognized tomato brand in the world.
It is his innovative spirit and passion for quality and customer service that has truly set Sunset apart and allows them to continue to be pioneers in the industry, said a colleague.
“I’m speechless,” said Mastronardi. “It’s incredibly humbling to be presented with this award among so many innovators and professionals. This is a true honour.”
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