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Sunkist realigns sales structure to expand business and service

Sunkist Growers is realigning its sales operations, trading ‘bricks and mortar’ for electronic technology to better serve its customers, shippers and growers. The changes, said Mark Tompkins, Sunkist’s director of domestic fresh fruit sales, are a result of a comprehensive business evaluation undertaken by the cooperative citrus marketing organization.

Sunkist’s fresh fruit sales division, in collaboration with The Monitor Group, a renowned global strategy and management firm, restructured its sales operations and customizing practices to better compete and win in today’s marketplace. “We consulted with Monitor to help us design a system that allows us to do the right things for the right mix of customers at the lowest cost to our grower-members,” said Tompkins.

“As a result, Sunkist is moving to a more centralized model of sales operations that allows our key sales people to ‘go virtual’ — to devote more time to strategic selling and account planning in order to increase delivery of services that are most valued by our key accounts,” he said. Sunkist’s strategic accounts managers no longer manage offices, but instead have been freed by technology to work from anywhere customers need them.”

The strategic accounts managers are supported by staff in Sunkist’s three operational “hubs” — the Eastern Sales Operations Center (ESOC) in Pittsburgh, Pa.; the Western Sales Operations Center (WSPC) in Sherman Oaks, Calif.; and the National Accounts Sales Operations Center (NASOC) in Visalia, Calif.

Four management changes with promotions and new positions are part of the realignment:

John Slagel, formerly the regional manager of Sunkist’s Eastern sales division, is heading up an enlarged Pittsburgh office which combines Sunkist’s former Eastern and Central regional offices. John, a 17-year Sunkist sales veteran, was most recently director of the Eastern regional sales office. He is the recipient of the Sunkist President’s Award for Marketing Excellence. Following his graduation from Pennsylvania State University in Pittsburgh, he gained produce business experience with Charley Bros. Co. in Pennsylvania before joining Sunkist in 1991.

Brian Slagel, who served as regional manger of the Central division, now holds the newly created position of director of business development and will be based in Orlando, Fla. Brian, who joined Sunkist in 1996, was also a President’s Award winner. In his new position, he is responsible for developing strategic customer relationships with key accounts in North America, working closely with other sales department leaders to manage relationships and develop additional Sunkist business.

Bruce Simmons, who previously led the Western sales division, is the new director of foodservice sales, based in Utah. An 18-year Sunkist veteran, Bruce is charged with developing relationships with key foodservice customers and coordinating Sunkist’s sales efforts. A graduate of the University of Utah, he joined Sunkist in 1990 as a sales representative and became director of the Western regional sales office in 2000.

Lance McMillan is the manager of national sales accounts in charge of retail and wholesale accounts and will continue to work from the National Accounts Sales Office (NASO) in Visalia, Calif. Lance joined Sunkist in 2002 as the senior account manager for national accounts. He was previously a sales coordinator for Sunkist-affiliated packinghouses under the Pro-Ag Inc. ownership. He was a Dupont Fellow in the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association’s Class of 2000. A graduate of San Diego State University, for several years Lance ran a business which developed marketing strategies for a number of food and agriculture-related clients.

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