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Mentors in the Making: Nick Williamson

ick williamson is one surprise after another. Born and raised on the East Coast of England, an avid rugby player and all around sports fan, with military service in the British Armed Forces and the Queen’s Colour Squadron—Nick has seen and experienced much of the world. One thing Nick did not expect during two operational tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan was that he would end up in the produce industry.

“I met my now-wife Chantelle on the East Coast of Canada while taking part in a military display representing the British forces,” Nick shares, reminiscing about those first years when they met, and how in the end, he opted for love. “The rest is history. After quite a bit of traveling back and forth, I decided to move to the Leamington and Kingsville areas in Ontario, Canada, where Chantelle and I were married.”

Little did Nick know, this would also put him on the path to a career in the produce industry.

“Completely by chance, a good friend in town who works in the industry asked me if I had ever sold tomatoes. I laughed, and asked, ‘What?’” Nick smiles and says, adding that the next thing he knew, he bumped into Mucci Farms’ General Manager, Danny Mucci, at a local gym, and the friendship began.

After he was brought in for an interview, Danny Mucci and VP of Sales and Marketing Joe Spano invited Nick onto their sales team. Despite his inexperience, they believed in him and set him loose. As we can see, their belief in him has paid off.

So, what makes Nick so passionate about the produce industry that he has grown to love?

“One word: family. The entire industry, for the most part, is a family,” he shares. “To be welcomed with open arms into the Mucci family and this incredible produce industry, just makes me want to work harder and push forward further every day, not only for my company but for my entire industry. Together we have the ability to change so much for the greater good.  It is very inspiring and exciting to be a part of something so special.”

For Nick, this family he found in the produce industry is ever-growing. Holding a special place within its reaches are some of his most cherished mentors—Danny Mucci, General Manager, Mucci Farms; Mario Masellis, Director of Sales, Procurement Specialist, Catania Worldwide; and Stéphane Desrochers Category Manager, Produce, Fresh Meat and Floral, Giant Tiger.

“Having met Danny Mucci five years ago at a local gym, I never would have imagined that encounter leading me to a career in the produce industry,” Nick shares. “Danny grew up working hands-on at the farm level and, as a result, he truly has a passion for farming, first and foremost. That passion is contagious. His drive, work ethic, and success at a young age is a daily inspiration to me. His leadership style allowed me to learn from my own mistakes, and that open-minded approach gave me the passion and confidence I have today. Danny never makes you feel like you work for him. He always makes you feel like you work with him.”

As for Mario, he is what Nick calls an all-around beauty—knowledgeable, passionate, welcoming, and kind.

“Mario was one of the first guys I met in the industry outside of my company. I met him at an event and instantly noticed how Mario exuded passion and energy not only when talking about produce, but also when he spoke about everything, such as family, travel, wine, Italy, and soccer,” Nick pauses to reflect. “He is one-of-a-kind, and unbeknownst to him he has been a role model and a benchmark to how I would like to conduct my business—honest, humble, and passionate. Furthermore, I have a great deal of respect for Mario’s willingness to give back to the industry through mentorship and leadership.”

When it comes to Stéphane, Nick recalls their first interactions fondly. He was the first key account contact that Nick was asked to call on. Naturally, being brand new to the produce industry, it was intimidating to cold call someone with over 20 years of experience in the industry.

“To my surprise, Stéphane made me feel very comfortable and welcomed me with open arms,” Nick shares. “That first experience has inspired me throughout my career. Stéphane has taught me that humility will take you a long way in this industry. Despite his wealth of experience and knowledge, his open-minded approach facilitated several opportunities for me to learn from him and develop my career. Although we had a huge disparity in experience, he listened to my ideas and collaborated with me from day one. One day, I too will be a 20-year veteran in this industry, and hope I can inspire newcomers even half as well as Stéphane has inspired me.”

It has been a wild ride for Nick, and the road ahead looks to be just as exciting as the one he has paved thus far.

 

 

Here is what the mentors had to say about Nick Williamson...

Danny Mucci, General Manager, Mucci FarmsNick is one of the few people that I have hired with no direct work experience in the produce industry. It was his genuine character, combined with his eagerness and willingness to learn, that impressed me most. Nick’s life experiences in the military have shaped him and as a result, his character is undoubtedly one of loyalty, discipline, and dedication. My first encounter with Nick was at a local gym, where he was a personal trainer. We instantly connected, and he began to help me in my journey of putting health and fitness back into my life. In some ways, and one experience in particular, I’ve viewed Nick as a personal mentor to me. During the 50K for 50K, an Ultra Marathon that Nick and I committed to for the Make a Wish Foundation, Nick stayed along my side and encouraged me the entire way. ‘Peaks and troughs, Danny, peaks and troughs,’ he would say. I often refer back to those inspiring words when Nick questions his work challenges, as this message directly relates to our industry as there are, and will always be, ‘highs and lows.’ Through peaks and troughs, Nick has impressed and succeeded in his sales position, as well as personally. He is an incredible father, husband, and friend. Nick is very personable and has a unique and welcoming charm about him. His enthusiasm is infectious and he has a genuine and incredibly passionate personality that comes across in all that he does. Nick is ALL HEART and has a wonderful and promising future in the produce industry. We are proud to have him as a part of our team.”

Mario Masellis, Director of Sales, Procurement Specialist, Catania WorldwideIt has been a pleasure getting to know Nick over the last five years. My first impression of him was of a young James Bond, polished and confident. The strong British accent didn’t hurt either. Long discussions at industry trade shows and customer functions, is where I really got to know the substance behind the polish. Nick is what I like to refer to as a ‘Global Citizen.’ His knowledge of the world and life experiences outside of the produce industry have helped him become the leader he is, within our industry. It has been a pleasure watching Nick grow into the professional he has become. Nick is always asking questions which exemplifies his thirst for knowledge of the produce industry. This is an attribute that has earned him the responsibility of some very key accounts at Mucci Farms. He is an asset to his customers, his company, and our industry. Well done, Nick!

Stéphane Desrochers, Category Manager Fresh, Giant Tiger Stores LimitedI see mentorship as a personal and developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. In Nick’s case, I would bring that traditional notion into question, as Nick has also been a mentor to me in many ways. It all started with that first phone call—not an email—introducing himself in a very professional, polite, and articulate way, while also expressing his willingness to support our business goals, needs, and expectations. Our roles, needs, and limitations were addressed at the very beginning, allowing us to build that trust and immediately utilize each other’s strengths. His ability to innovate, actively participate, and be reliable with an ongoing consistency and positivity, is the key to his strong partnerships and success. Nick is that partner you can depend on, and know that he will support your vision and mission until it is achieved. I have been fortunate to have worked with Nick to make a difference.