High Flavor, Organic, and Conventional

The Language of Tech

The Language of Tech

Those of us lucky enough to sprout a career from long-held interests know how fortunate we are. To make an example of myself, I never thought an editing gig for The Snack Magazine would become my career turning point. But what anchored me in this decision was my love for writing and storytelling—I only needed a vehicle through which to direct that passion.

It’s a running theme in this business: taking an advantageous skill set and adapting it to a new field. Although some of us define our journey to fresh produce in different ways, the pull of the business resonates equally.

When Tony Zuccato made the jump to Produce Pro Software in 2004, he had already amassed a wealth of experience in software development. His strong interest in computers and programming languages is a core part of his personality. Tony sees technology in a different light than most; he understands that the language of technology is actually the language of people. This ability to translate and interpret is a skill many try to construct but can never fully execute. We are an industry of people who use advancements, not an industry of advanced technology that comes second to people.

Throughout his career, Tony has exemplified this philosophy and put his strengths to the test by leveling up with every position. And his transition to Produce Pro Software was no different.

"This exposure to working with larger companies gave me a big-picture perspective of IT, both the good and the bad. Mostly, I learned that personal relationships are still the best way to connect with people."

Tony Zuccato, Vice President of Operations, Produce Pro Software

“Produce Pro Software was looking for someone to bring more structure and stability to the company to allow the company to grow. At the time, the company had 16 staff members—we’ve since grown to a 120-strong operation,” says the Vice President of Operations, who was originally recruited to run the Professional Services group. “The challenge to help the company grow even more was very exciting for me, and I could see that passion reflected in the management team.”

In 2004, Produce Pro Software had already been in business for 14 years. Throughout that run, the team retained nearly all of their original customers—a fact that impressed Tony immediately.

“It was obvious that management was building long-lasting relationships with customers and was committed to their success. Over the past 17 years since I’ve been in my position, we’ve definitely grown, and it has been quite a ride,” Tony shares.

Building relationships is a key tenet of Tony’s values, one you’ll see reflected throughout his career. Ever since graduating from Bradley University in 1992, Tony knew that interpersonal connection was essential to his success.

It would, after all, ultimately lead him to Produce Pro Software.

Before the company was on his radar, though, he was busy building his career in software development. His first full-time gig was with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), where he learned about both programming and consulting. CSC introduced him to large corporate entities such as Motorola and CVS Pharmacy®.

“This exposure to working with larger companies gave me a big-picture perspective of IT, both the good and the bad. Mostly, I learned that personal relationships are still the best way to connect with people,” he notes before diving deeper into the moves that shaped the path to Produce Pro Software.

A position with a small boutique software company, Advanced Information Solutions (AIS), solidified his interest in growing smaller companies and, as he explains to me, allowed him the chance to make a difference. Working one-on-one with customers to understand what they needed became a core part of his business style—one reflected to this day. It was there that Tony took a lead role in mentoring and growing team members to better the success of the company.

As AIS eventually morphed into a new company called Xpedior, Tony moved into a project and development team management role, where he enjoyed being responsible for the delivery of the solution to the customer while still mentoring and leading others. From there, he moved to Click Commerce as a Managing Consultant, a role that allowed him greater visibility in conducting and steering committee meetings with senior management.

“In 2003, I was selected to run the Professional Services Division for Click. This opportunity to lead a group of 50 staff members is something I really enjoyed. I was able to bring standard practices and best-of-breed solutions to our group,” Tony remarks of the experience. “I enormously enjoyed the challenge of leading a Services group. I ultimately didn’t see Click as a viable long-term option, so I set out to look for a new opportunity. While I had enjoyed my time in software development and project management, I really wanted to find something I could build and grow.”

And here we circle back to Produce Pro Software.

“The biggest turning point in my career was my decision to join Produce Pro Software. Similar to when I left CSC, the folks at Click Commerce could not understand why I would want to leave to join a smaller company like Produce Pro Software. The challenge presented to me was something I was instantly attracted to,” Tony emphasizes. “I kept thinking to myself how Produce Pro Software used technology to solve business problems and create competitive advantages in a specific vertical market like produce would allow me the opportunity to grow. The biggest key, though, was the ability to connect with customers and ensure we are meeting their needs to allow them to have success.”

When Tony first joined the company, he figured Produce Pro Software had done everything there was to do with software for the produce industry.

"New technologies are constantly emerging that allow us to deliver exciting new solutions for our customers. Because of our business model, we build our software from scratch, providing flexible and tailored solutions for each individual customer. No two customers are exactly alike."

Tony Zuccato

“With our industry constantly changing, I may have been a little shortsighted in that assumption!” he laughs, commenting on how new business requirements and industry demands always arise. “New technologies are constantly emerging that allow us to deliver exciting new solutions for our customers. Because of our business model, we build our software from scratch, providing flexible and tailored solutions for each individual customer. No two customers are exactly alike.”

Celebrating 32 years in business, Produce Pro Software prides itself on being a business partner that understands the tumultuous and challenging world of fresh produce—and how to react swiftly to any challenges.

“Our customers can rest assured knowing our software is the last they will ever need,” Tony affirms. “Our software is an all-in-one enterprise resource planning system (ERP), so our customers just need to focus on one system. The system is also designed to operate for quick ease of use. Developing efficiency and accurate inventory is key, and our customers trust us and our software to run their operations.”

Produce Pro Software provides true visibility into all aspects of an operation while emphasizing this ease of use, so everything is at a user’s fingertips. Customers can quickly navigate through interactive screens such as: Recall Entry, Forecasting, Sales Board, Work Orders, Dispatch Window, Load Arrival, and Lot Settlement.

Always at hand is Produce Pro Software’s incredible team, which Tony speaks of with great pride.

“It is all about finding and grooming good people to deliver great solutions for our customers. I love the challenge of finding people that will be ‘in demand’ because they do such a great job. Whenever we add new customers or new staff members, we welcome them by telling them, ‘Welcome to the Produce Pro Software family,’” Tony says, elaborating on how the values of the operation instantly aligned with his. “In so many ways, that really sums up the key values of Produce Pro Software.”

Tony explains that, without its customers and staff, there wouldn’t be a company to run. The loyalty of both coincides for a fruitful balance, ensuring both sides of the transaction go off without a hitch.

“Thanks to the loyalty of our customers and the excellent work of our staff, we’ve really turned into quite a large family! And it is a family I am so proud of, and so happy to have had a hand in developing over the past 17 years,” Tony imparts.

As he closes our conversation, it’s clear Tony feels blessed to have landed at Produce Pro Software.

“Needless to say, I’m excited for the future and the ways we can help our customers drive results with increased organizational efficiency, minimized waste and loss, reduced operating costs, and real-time data. We know we will be there for our customers and do whatever it takes to make them succeed. The strong, long-term partnerships we’ve established and continue to foster mean everything to us,” he concludes.

Tony’s love for programming and computers may have taken him somewhere he didn’t expect, but I don’t think he would change a thing. Searching for a smaller gig paid off big, allowing him to map out growth opportunities for not only himself, but for an industry he’s come to love.