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Nager Goes To Bat For
Domex Superfresh Growers

Back at Babson College, he was a shortstop on The Battling Beavers, but he certainly hasn’t stopped short in his career. Word has come out that after stints at Dole, Del Monte, Pacific Fruit, Sunsweet Growers and Maui Pineapple, Howard Nager has accepted a new position:

Howard NagerDomex Superfresh Growers announced today that Howard Nager joined the Company as Vice President Marketing, effective February 4, 2008. Mr. Nager will be responsible for all Marketing and Category Management functions related to building brand awareness and loyalty with both the trade and consumer as well as developing those programs targeted to increase consumption of the Company’s apple, pear, cherry and summer fruit crops.

He will work closely with Domex Superfresh Growers’ strong grower base, commodity boards and industry as well as participate as part of the Company’s senior management team in setting strategic direction.

Mr. Nager brings with him extensive marketing experience in the produce industry. In his various management and executive positions, he has overseen sales and marketing programs for both produce and consumer packaged goods products. Most recently, Mr. Nager was Vice President Sales and Marketing for Maui Pineapple Company.

“Howard’s broad knowledge of the produce industry and his management and leadership skills will greatly assist Domex Superfresh Growers category growth strategy for both our conventional and organic products,” says Robert Kershaw, President of Domex Superfresh Growers.

“We continue to expand our efforts in category management, provide superior customer service, increase our focus on product quality, taste and strive to maintain some of the highest standards in the industry. Our vision is that we will be the best in the world at connecting Tree Fruit growers to consumers while staying true to the founding principles of the last four generations; honesty, a sense of urgency and integrity. We look forward to Howard’s leadership in many of these areas,” added Kershaw.

One great reason for taking this position is surely an opportunity to work with the Kershaw Family. If you read articles, such as this and this, you will certainly learn details such as the heritage of their company:

The Kershaw brothers’ business is a fifth-generation farming enterprise that started in 1878 in the Yakima Valley. Their family was among the first pioneers in the agriculturally productive area, initially starting with cattle ranching.

But you will also learn how sustainability has to be considered in judging the long term competitiveness of different growing regions:

Ed said it’s not cheap to grow apples anywhere in the world. Chinese producers cannot sustain their production of apples if they deliver them to the United States cheaper than Washington producers can. “There’s a cost to raise a product that will give a sustainable return to the land. It’s somebody’s cost. If it’s the government’s cost, at a certain point they’re going to revisit those subsidies, whether it’s for the World Trade Organization or because growers of other commodities are mad because they’re not getting a piece of the pie.

And unusual opportunities to do business:

Surprisingly, Washington has a competitive advantage in India, which is a small, but growing market for apples, Robert said. The country has a billion people and grows five million boxes of apples, mostly Red Delicious, in the northern part of the country. It’s cheaper to ship Red Delicious from Yakima, Washington, to some of the major markets in India than for Indian growers to send their apples to those markets, because ocean freight is cheaper than overland transport.

“In the southern markets, we have a competitive advantage over Indian apples,” Robert said. “Not to mention that the quality is ten times better. The only way the Indian apple can compete is on price, and that’s not sustainable.”

Howard will be a great match. He always seeks unusual opportunities and does not allow conventional obstacles to stand in his way.

Once, he was attracted to a woman he met at a trade show. As she was exhibiting across from his booth, he asked her to dinner but she declined explaining that it was a family business and she was there with her parents. Howard always rises to a challenge and said “bring them along” — which she did. So his first date with a woman he would eventually marry was with her parents. A lesser man would have shrunk from the challenge.

Howard will do great. The only problem with going from Maui Pineapple to Domex is what is he going to do with all those all white outfits he was always appearing in?

Howard Nager and Kristine Snyder

Howard Nager, then Director of Sales and Marketing for Maui Pineapple Company presenting a prize to Kristine Snyder of Khei for her recipe that won the Safeway/Maui Pineapple Cook-Off.

Best of luck to Howard, to the Kershaws and the whole Domex team.

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