End of an era
Citing philosophical differences, Mark Holtzinger, on November 30, left the company that his grandfather started almost 100 years ago, and where he was involved the last 25. Although he plans to pursue opportunities in the tree fruit industry, he did not have a public announcement at press time for the Good Fruit Grower.
"My vision of what direction the company should go wasn't happening," said Holtzinger, who was president of Holtzinger Fruit Company in Yakima, Washington from 1995 to 2006.
"When it's someone else's business, ultimately, it's their decision."
Holtzinger Fruit, a commercial tree fruit packer that ships around three million cartons annually, experienced a string of changes in the last decade. In the early 2000s, the company formed marketing alliances with Oregon Cherry Growers and Snokist Growers to make it one of the largest fresh cherry marketers in North America. They also partnered with Green Giant Fresh to pack apples, pears, and cherries under the Green Giant label. But in recent years, those three marketing alliances were dissolved.
In 2004, financially leveraged from three hailstorms in five years, depressed export markets in Asia, and decreased demand for Red Delicious apples, company assets were acquired by Intracorp Capital, a Seattle investment company.
Holtzinger's grandfather, a fruit entrepreneur from Iowa, founded the business in 1908. When grandfather C.M. Holtzinger died in 1958, Mark's father became president and expanded the business by purchasing the Johnny Appleseed Ranch in Okanogan and Prosser Fruit Service in Prosser, which launched the company into cherries. Later, C.M. Holtzinger, Jr., entered the wine grape industry through ownership of Quail Run Winery (later called Covey Run). Mark's father, known as Charlie, died of pancreatic cancer in January 2005. The company had also exited from the growing side of fruit production, selling all its orchard and vineyard land.
Mark said his expectations of the company had not been met. "There are just philosophical differences about where the company is headed between Intracorp and myself," he said. "It's time to pursue other interests in the tree fruit industry."