When the Pundit Poppa, Michael Prevor, was in college, he majored in accounting, a practical skill, but he minored in International Trade, an area he was intrigued with and one he thought had applicability to an American produce industry still mostly insular in its thought process. He joined the family business as a young man and, from the beginning, he was to focus on global opportunities. In time he made the Pundit’s family business the largest independent exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables from the United States and a substantial importer as well.
When we launched PRODUCE BUSINESS at the PMA Convention in San Francisco in 1985, right from the start we integrated international content into the magazine. Robert Zwartkruis, a Dutchman living in Sweden, was a founding columnist, and as a substantial importer of American produce he offered a distinctive and informed voice that kept our readers abreast of the dynamics of the global produce market.
We, of course, always had readers around the world, but the nature of print distribution meant there were delays, and it was expensive so only those most directly connected to trade with the USA would get copies.
Then came the Internet and we invented the Perishable Pundit, and all of the sudden the world became smaller. We were on CNN, not only in America, but in Tokyo and London, on the BBC, in hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV shows in every corner of the globe, and we started to give information and gain insight from produce industry leaders across the planet.
As we sought additional ways to help elevate the industry, we moved into events and it made sense to spread our wings outside the US. We could build on established relationships while also building new ones and, soon The New York Produce Show and Conference gave birth to the Global Trade Symposium and the Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum and then to events such as The London Produce Show and Conference and The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference.
Still there is only so far that one can go communicating solely in English. Even though most industry and corporate leaders outside of the US speak English, they may understand more completely in their native tongue. And there are many who, of course, do not speak English at all.
Yet it is more than just language. Americans grow up thinking of opportunity as being primarily domestic. It makes sense. The US is a vast country with opportunity aplenty. But it is different for a little boy, or girl, growing up in, say, Holland. Virtually from birth they are taught that opportunity depends on being willing to transcend the borders of the Netherlands. That is why so many Dutch are fluent in multiple languages.
In the produce industry, it is those who grow up in Chile and South Africa and other producing countries without large domestic markets that are raised from birth to look for global opportunities.
So, for our company, the goal was clear: Move into communicating in other languages and continue to develop a team that is open to global ideas.
In the whole world, there is exactly one person and one organization that, like a missing piece of the puzzle, could interlock perfectly with what we have built so carefully over the past three decades.
The publisher of the most important and influential transnational produce portals is Yentzen Consulting. And the entrepreneurial spirit behind these portals is company founder, Gustavo Yentzen Wilson. Publishing in English, Spanish and Chinese, these publications serve an industry that reaches over two billion consumers.
It is with extraordinary pride that we announce that we have joined hands with Yentzen Consulting, confident that the combination will allow us to learn more while communicating more and thus give us an opportunity to help people advance their careers, help companies achieve greater success and help the industry become stronger and better.
Gusatvo Yentzen and his wife, Marie, signing papers in Santiago, Chile to make the company part of Phoenix Media Network.
The Santiago-based company provides many services, but is best known for publishing three well known portals:
The relationship with Gustavo goes back a long time, to before he had his own company. In fact, shortly after he set up his own company, we named Gustavo to the 2007 class of our 40 under Forty program with this write-up:
Gustavo Yentzen Wilson, 36
Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
Gustavo Yentzen Wilson has a degree in business administration engineering from Adolfo Ibañez University, where he specialized in marketing and consumer behavior.He has worked for companies like 3M, CSAV (Chilean shipping company) and San Pedro winery. In 2001, the Chilean Exporters Association (ASOEX), which is responsible for the Chilean fruit global image project, appointed him senior marketing manager.
In 2006, he started his own business, Yentzen Consulting (YC), in Santiago, where he focuses on representing and aiding foreign entities that want to do business in the Chilean and Latin American produce markets. He also assists in positioning Chilean companies in North American markets. YC is dedicated to providing value through marketing ideas and plans, searching for synergies and economies of scale. In its first year of operations,YC assisted and represented international trade associations, including PMA, CAC and several trade publications.
Between 2001 and 2006, Yentzen developed and implemented the Chilean fresh fruit industry marketing campaign in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. It included a television campaign, press relations strategy and highly successful “Chilean Fruit, Wine and Salmon” cross-promotion and point-of-sale activities. For five years, he was responsible for coordinating activities related to the “Experience the Flavors of Chile” event at the Chilean booth at PMA’s Fresh Summit.
In 2003, he expanded his marketing activities into Latin America by launching campaigns in Mexico and Colombia. In 2004, he participated in the launching of the 5-A-Day campaign in Chile. In 2005, Gustavo became the first Latin American representative in the UFFVA Leadership Program. In December 2006, YC started representing PMA in Chile and Peru.
Yentzen came from the wine industry.“It was an industry I loved in part because of the glamour involved,” he states. “As I started working in the produce industry, I realized it had the same glamour, but I also found other dimensions. I discovered an industry revolving around and depending on its people.There is a sense of community involving all its participants around the world, no matter the position in the company or role played in the distribution chain. I found an industry sincerely caring about the final consumer and campaigns encouraging children and people to eat more healthfully, not only for the economic aspect of it but also with the conviction of generating good for society as a whole. I saw dedication in growers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers.Moreover, I encountered an industry welcoming new people, especially young people, to share its new ideas. And I found an industry passionate about produce, but more importantly passionate about life itself.”
He appreciates having met a great number of people who have taught him many things. “I always try to learn from the people I meet and who surround me. I take as a souvenir the very best of each one, not only professionally but also on a human level. These fellow produce people have helped me to be a better professional and a better person. For this, I consider myself a very blessed person.”
We’ve kept in touch ever since and have watched as Gustavo carefully managed the growth of his operation in important fields such as China and managed this growth with an approach to ethics and industry service that makes us proud to have Gustavo join the leadership ranks of Phoenix Media Network as well as to call Gustavo a friend.
Just around this time 32 years ago, Ken Whitacre and I drove to the Main Post Office in Manhattan each night at 2:00 AM to drop off solicitations for our fledgling magazine.
We cannot say that we foresaw the path that we would take, but each envelope we mailed carried with it a dream that we would find ways to serve this industry in such a manner that we would be rewarded with the chance to grow. And that with each ring of growth, we would find new and better ways to serve.
We never dreamt that we would be publishing in Chinese and running events in London and Amsterdam, and we never dreamt that when we shook Gustavo’s hand to present him his 40-under-Forty plaque that we would later be shaking hands over a contract uniting our operations.
Of course, when great-grandfather Jacob Prevor took sail from Russia to set up his produce operation in the old Wallabout Produce Market in Brooklyn did he ever dream his great-grandson would be helping to Initiate Industry Improvement — in line with the motto of the enterprise his great-grandson created — in Spanish, in Chinese and across the English-speaking world.
We are sure not, and in that is a lesson: If we are to build our careers, our companies and our industry, we can never wait for certainty as to the outcome. We have to believe in ourselves and what we can create and, in the fullness of time, trust that if we create value, that value will return back to us multiplied many times over.
We know that Gustavo joins us now in committing to use these formidable resources at our disposal to help people, companies and the industry at large find a path to a better tomorrow.