As Matt Quiring recently told me, it’s easy for a person who is passionate about what they do to bring someone under their wing. Those who are doing things for the right reasons are easy to follow.
“I knew I wanted to be part of my dad’s business in high school,” Matt says confidently. Now Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Nature Fresh Farms, he recalls watching Peter Quiring hard at work. “He has a really strong work ethic I’ve always been inspired by. We were raised on humble beginnings, and I think that is what led me to follow in his footsteps—watching him grow something from nothing into a rising empire. He’s done a great job dedicating himself, and it’s been inspiring to watch.”
What Matt would do within the expanding business remained undetermined until Pete challenged him to launch a completely new aspect of what is now Nature Fresh Farms.
“The sales and marketing side was born on something of a whim,” Matt shares, to my amazement. “I was running the packing line one day and my dad called me. He said he was tired of not getting the right feedback from an outside marketer. ‘Here are 10 numbers, call everyone on this list, and sell everything you can.’ I was 19 years old, we had 67 acres of product, and I had literally no experience.”
Ten numbers and the guts to say yes. That’s how the now-thriving sales and marketing division of Nature Fresh began.
“A mentor is someone who leads by example and is easy to rally behind. Somebody with the right mindset and characteristics to inspire a team and move things forward, which I saw in my dad even before I was working for him. Witnessing the effort he puts in every day was easy to get behind,” Matt recalls. “He’s had to teach me some lessons along the way. I’ve been fired by my dad, which was hard but a good experience. I learned my job wasn’t there because I was my dad’s son. In fact, I should work harder because I share his name and earn people’s trust by working my way up.”
“I knew I wanted to be part of my dad’s business in high school. [...] He has a really strong work ethic I’ve always been inspired by. We were raised on humble beginnings, and I think that is what led me to follow in his footsteps—watching him grow something from nothing into a rising empire.”
Matt Quiring, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Nature Fresh Farms
It’s a trait Matt admires in Pete and other mentors he would come to know—seeing potential and pushing someone off the deep end.
“Sink or swim, you figure it out!” Matt assures me. He was far from sinking when our own paths first crossed in 2015, thanks in no small part to a pair of coaches who knew the waters quite well: Jay Colasanti and Ray Wowryk.
“When we met, I was just starting to get my feet wet in sales working under Jay,” Matt remembers of the past Owner and President of Red Zoo USA. “Jay is somebody I owe a lot of my career to—he knew the industry and everybody in it, had his own marketing company, and was responsible for bringing the mini cucumber to the North American market.”
Quite the resume for a role model!
“Jay was and still is a master trader. He understands what it means to be fair and held accountable for your decisions. Lessons I still follow every day—build partnerships and relationships that go beyond transactional, follow up, be on task, think creatively—are ones I learned from Jay Colasanti,” Matt says.
“A mentor is someone who leads by example and is easy to rally behind. Somebody with the right mindset and characteristics to inspire a team and move things forward, which I saw in my dad even before I was working for him. Witnessing the effort he put in every day was easy to get behind.”
With so much experience already under his belt, I found myself wondering at the pitch that brought Jay on board.
“Jay loves to share—something I think resonates with any mentor,” Matt answers. “He previously brought a company up from nothing and took the opportunity for a second kick at doing that for a new business. A mentor has a passion they want to share, to see things improve, and Jay is one of those people.”
That same fire can be found in Ray Wowryk, Nature Fresh’s Director of Business Development, who also brought multiple careers’ worth of knowledge to the fledgling marketing and sales operation.
“Ray has never lived within our town—he is actually across the country—but you would never know that. He is as dialed in as the person sitting next to my desk. It’s a different level of passion that was always inspiring,” Matt tells me.
Ray came in as a consultant and remains in that capacity for Nature Fresh because to do so gives him joy. How can one not want to follow such a lifestyle?
“He really has taken initiative helping to bring me up, and many others. He’s a mentor with Passion for Produce within the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. He works with various boards across North America. I think Ray is inspired by bringing the next generation up. He’s guided me, pushing me into different areas of both comfort and discomfort…he just doesn’t ever quit,” Matt observes. “Ray is a gentleman that loves, lives, and breathes this industry. He says when he stops having fun is when he’ll hang it up.”
Which is a perfect way to sum up Matt’s own experience with mentorship, and what he hopes to pass on to those that might follow him: “It’s simple to get behind something you love. Doing things for the right reasons makes it easy to do well at them. Each person I consider my mentor does well because they love what they do.”
A mindset I see many willing to follow as this mentor in the making spreads his own wings.
Here is what they have to say about Matt…
Founder and Owner, Nature Fresh Farms
Someone who wants to be better and learn a lot would have much to benefit from Matt. He’s got patience at the same time as passion—patience for the industry and people working in it, more so than me, I’d say.
We have been close since he was born, really, and he has always been the kind of guy that would jump in with both feet. He has a real breadth of knowledge, including terminal market, wholesale, and retail. There are not very many who have had the opportunity to be taught by various seasoned members of the industry, and not all who are as willing to learn as Matt is. Even today, when Matt doesn’t know, he doesn’t pretend to know. He puts the effort into learning, and I think that’s a really big part of his success. I taught him what I could, but it’s gone beyond that with many others, and it has served him well. If you have a passion for this industry and the people in it, if you’re willing to learn, you’d benefit greatly working with Matt.
Past Owner and President, Red Zoo USA
I really appreciate that Matt has suggested myself as a mentor to his success. Matt was fresh out of school and very impressionable when I was brought in to bestow education and my past experience to the new marketing arm of Nature Fresh Farms. Perhaps because it was a family business, or because he had a natural passion for this new part of it, Matt brought a fresh energy to the sales office.
The first and most important lesson I preached to all on the sales team was the need for respect for every type of customer, and to understand the values each kind brings to the company. We often discussed what the values were of the terminal vendors as compared to foodservice vendors, as compared to large retailers. Every distributor that purchases products we are growing is important—we must learn how to communicate with them and manage supply with each, when it is in abundance as well as short. Don’t get beat up by the customer, and do not beat them up. You need to partner, work with, and communicate with your customer. The other most important item to deal with is collecting money. The produce business is built on trust, but not blind trust. Use the credit directories that have been around for 100-plus years to keep your sales with customers that perform well, with good credit ratings.
I know that Matt will succeed with fresh produce sales management, as he truly understands this business.
Director of Business Development, Nature Fresh Farms
Mentorship is about jumping on the journey side by side with someone, helping them set their sights, so to speak. I was brought into the organization to encourage new business with retailers across Canada and throughout the USA, and Matt was new to that side of business. We are opposites in many ways and challenge each other. In those moments, it’s very important to understand the other individual. To give them that space to either show why they see things that way or to make their own way and learn over the process. Matt has been a very good student in that way, and in helping me with what I’m not seeing. I think a mentee needs to teach the mentor as well.
Matt is constantly wanting to learn and do better. One way he has set himself up for greater success in years to come is his growing interest in participating in committees and with leaders in our industry—a great way for personal development while helping provide more healthy opportunities for consumer access to fruits and vegetables. I’ve had a great experience with Matt and the team as a whole since I started with Nature Fresh.