"It’s all about quality.” This isn’t just the sentiment that I quickly become aware of while talking to the team behind Double Diamond Farms. It is that distinguishing attitude that gets each and every one of them out of bed in the morning. As we chat about the future of the company, I can tell right away that their sights are set on building a legacy that is grounded in this belief.
Now 40 years and two generations deep in the greenhouse community, this “gem” within the Canadian growing competition is proving, once again, to be a powerhouse to rival.
“While we bring a progressive and forward-thinking vision and program to the greenhouse industry, our goal has always been to maintain balance and stay grounded in our family values and the culture this mindset creates,” CEO Chris Mastronardi shares with me, adding that this rooted but flexible nature has allowed the company to pivot quickly and efficiently as consumer buying behaviors shift and demands within the market change. “We each work with that sense of ownership and it constantly drives the company forward.”
Chris and his twin brother, Benji, sit at the helm of the company, keeping a watchful eye on the evolving landscape and preparing the company for its next phase of growth. With a trusted team determined to elevate the Double Diamond program, the company is more than coming into its own. Chris, along with Director of Sales/Business Development Paul Sabelli, Procurement Manager Caitlyne Johns, Director of Sales Emidio Cappussi, and Marketing Specialist Graham Hamilton, take a moment from their insane schedules to share the foresight driving the company, and how the best days are yet to come.
“Our company has definitely evolved in recent years. Between a complete overhaul of our program—with the goal of differentiating our unique and flavorful produce—and expanding our operations both in acreage and distribution, our strength is our vision and, ultimately, our execution,” Paul says.
Caitlyne tells me that the Double Diamond approach is one of integrity, one that brings a quality experience to the retailer.
“By bringing an honest product to market and adding value for our retail partnerships, combined with that bright brand recognition we are known for—we believe we can continue to add value to produce department sales and the consumer’s kitchen,” Caitlyne adds.
“The better the relationship, the easier it is to do business on good faith and generate revenue.”
—Emidio Capussi, Director of Sales, Double Diamond Farms
As Chris tells me, right from the start, Double Diamond’s brand was recognizable, and was born from deep values. From the day his dad and company Founder, Nick Mastronardi, shipped the company’s first box of produce, the family has always ensured the best quality with exceptionally high food safety standards and customer service.
“It is all about intent—how you wake up each day,” Chris says. “We want our customers to connect with this idea and our authentic way of approaching life and the business. Our brand is the execution of those values.”
As the company searched for its evolving identity a couple years back, the idea of what the brand could become began to change as well.
“The team set their sights on a return to their roots—why the company was started, what those key goals were for the family, and how they wanted consumers, retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice partners to see and envision Double Diamond’s name,” Graham shares. “In an effort to impact the marketplace, we focused on the core of who we have always been. When we took that step back, we discovered that the direction was simple.”
I ask Chris where this steadfast commitment to quality comes from, and he shares the heart of the matter.
“At the end of the day, everything needed to relate back to the quality and flavor that can only come with years of growing experience,” Chris reflects. “As long as we stand by this belief, then we know that we are on the right track.”
On the shelves or on the road, the Double Diamond brand stands out.“Like our greenhouse and our products, the Double Diamond brand is colorful, vibrant, and exciting,” Chris continues. “We want customers to think of Double Diamond first when building their own relationships with the consumer.”
Emidio tells me that the goal is simple.
“Continue to build solid and trustful relationships with all our customers—existing and future,” he says. “The better the relationship, the easier it is to do business on good faith and generate revenue.”
Whether it’s the unique varieties and flavor profiles of Double Diamond’s produce, or its dynamic kid’s line featuring relatable characters and extending a friendly hand to the next generation of produce palates, Paul tells me that Double Diamond is committed to growing a quality product.
“We listen to our retailers and buyers and to their needs and ideas,” Chris shares. “We try to not only incorporate them into our own growing and marketing philosophies, but also to anticipate their wants and needs as well—from operations and logistics, to putting more trucks on the road. As we build more strategies and structures to carry our company into the future, this will be key.”
Paul echoes Chris’ focus for the future of the company.
“Along with offering an excellent and consistent product, we aim to be even more recognizable in the competitive retail space and have seen increased awareness and loyalty since we put our backs into this next stage of growth,” Paul says.
And the future looks incredibly bright for Double Diamond with an operation ramping up in acreage and products year-over-year. To ensure the company is primed for the future, the team is also drilling down into its operations in order to create a more fluid and efficient program that simultaneously addresses the bottom line.
“Our focus on innovation is multi-tiered—from packaging, greenhouse, and supply chain technology to research and development and using ingenuity to find more efficient and impactful ways of bringing our costs down so we can grow and continue expanding as we have been,” Chris adds.
Speaking of those expansion efforts, the team has been strategically identifying key areas of growth that make the most sense for the Double Diamond game plan. These areas include not only investments in the land, but also the people.
“With Double Diamond growing acreage through the years, we’ve been able to, and have needed to, add many great new people to the team, ensuring our quality product gets to all our valued customers,” Caitlyne states. “Our culture is one of the biggest bonuses about Double Diamond; we take care of our employees and support their own personal and professional growth at the end of the day.”
And those people have helped make the enormous expansion of the company move forward and gain ground like a well-oiled machine.
Over the past year alone, the company has revealed the growth of its beloved mini cucumber and cocktail cucumber lines at its Kingsville, Ontario, operations with a new state-of-the-art automation packing system. This comes on the heels of the company’s 62-acre expansion in Leamington, Ontario, for the company’s greenhouse-grown produce, which will significantly increase Double Diamond’s production capacity.
In addition, Double Diamond added a Nogales, Arizona, office this year, giving the team an opportunity to further expand its reach, which is critical to the company’s mission of bringing the fresh flavor of greenhouse-grown produce to tables across North America.
“With our strategic distribution centers combined with our fleet of trucks, we are able to minimize food miles and deliver vine-ripe freshness to customers across Canada and the U.S.,” Emidio adds.
And the fun does not stop there as the company looks to drill down even further into its portfolio.
"Growing consumer demand for both our conventional and, most recently, organic categories, as well as in multiple specialty items, is really what’s driving this expansion,” Chris shares with me, adding that the extensive, variety-driven selection of high-quality, superior-flavored items has really been a hit with Double Diamond’s retail customers.
Organics have been a huge area of growth as consumers look to more variety and quality in the organic section of their local grocery stores. If we just look at the numbers alone, Double Diamond has doubled its organic program year-over-year, offering items such as organic mini cukes, organic English cucumbers, organic Diamond Sweets™, organic Gramato™, organic TOV, organic beefsteak, and organic bell peppers as well.
“At the end of the day, everything needed to relate back to the quality and flavor that can only come with years of growing experience.”
—Chris Mastronardi, President & CEO, Double Diamond Farms
“Our investments and availability show no signs of slowing,” Chris tells me. “And it really is our ability to listen to our customers, and the changing consumer landscape, that sets us apart in terms of execution.”
“My father started the company over four decades ago in 1977, with one acre of land,” Chris continues. “In two years, he had grown it to four, and in the last 20 years, we really accelerated that growth. My brother, Benji, and I have been a part of this operation since we were kids. It is these family values and the long commitment that runs in our blood, that I believe really catches on with the team.”
As Double Diamond has opened its arms and welcomed each and every one of the members into their family, the team believes this family concept really translates into the type of service that Double Diamond is able to provide and give to its customers. And being at the front of the pack in terms of innovation does not hurt either.
As we wrap up our chat, I ask Chris what it is about Double Diamond that gets him up in the morning.
He smiles and says, “That commitment to quality.”
After a slight pause, “Quality product, quality relationships, and quality people.”