What Makes Us Different top

Partners in The Harbinger Group provide strategic and tactical account management to ensure the financial success of the small to medium size farms and companies the Group identifies as viable enterprises.


  • The Harbinger Group, LLC Featured Image
  • The Harbinger Group, LLC Featured Image
  • The Harbinger Group, LLC Featured Image
  • The Harbinger Group, LLC Featured Image

We launched the Group to leverage the lessons we’ve learned creating a series of profitable new business ventures over the past three decades. They include fast-growth start-ups, one of which we grew to $750MM and subsequently sold to a Fortune 500 company, successful new product introductions, and new niche markets in the food industry.

The principal lesson we’ve learned is that the complexities of increasing regulation in the food industry—particularly in the area of food safety—have become a serious challenge to young companies that need to focus their resources on product quality, product differentiation, and sales. Indeed the breadth of professional services needed in today’s

business environment is a major barrier to a start-up’s success.

For example, in the world of produce, participating in the Produce Traceability Initiative is an ongoing process that requires a large initial investment of time and continuing monitoring. For the small to medium size family farm, trying to marshal the necessary resources can be overwhelming.

Our mission is to ensure that these smaller companies can prosper by providing them with the core services—strategic planning, accounting, marketing, food safety, and key account management—in the areas where they lack these resources so they can focus on managing and growing their businesses.

By using our resources, growers find they have greater control over their operations. This facilitates direct contact with retail and foodservice customers who are looking for flexibility and creativity in developing and packaging products. Such flexibility is often unavailable from large scale agribusiness companies.

This is a growing niche and we have established premium channels of distribution for our companies’ products, many of them new, with leading retailers and foodservice distributors known for their expertise in bringing new products to market successfully.


Meet Our Founders

Todd Koons

Profiled in The New Yorker and called a “visionary farmer” by TIME, Koons’ international reputation as a chef at Chez Panisse, creator of entirely new produce categories such as bagged organic spring mix and mâche, and his innovative marketing techniques make him a highly visible pundit in the food industry. His vision provides the Group with lucrative niche markets.

Joe Merenda

Recruited from Coca-Cola by C.H. Robinson, Meranda built the Fresh 1® Marketing Division from scratch to an organization that included foodservice, retail and wholesale distribution and sales channels. FoodSource hired him as director of business development where he took the foodservice division from $50K to over $100MM and helped grow the overall business from $150MM to over $750MM.

Tom Minnich

Coming from Alaska to the produce industry in his twenties freed Minnich from preconceptions about the industry’s future. The result? A visionary, entrepreneurial approach. He helped spearhead the revolution that moved organic produce into the mainstream. He builds and leads highly effective teams. One grew Misionero Vegetables from $0 to $120MM. Another built FoodSource from $0 to $750MM before Minnich sold it to a Fortune 500 company.

How We Qualify Our Companies top

Our investment selection criteria involve proprietary formulas that forecast downstream profitability, research that differentiates between genuine trends and transitory fads, and a bank of human resources that allows us to match managerial experience with enterprise needs.


Partners in The Harbinger Group have been instrumental in introducing many of the innovations that have changed the food industry over the last three decades.

These and other innovations have put us in touch with a multitude of food industry channels, which we mine for new products and new markets. The Group has also served as a magnet, attracting small companies with

unique products that come to us for strategic marketing, financial support, and professional services.

Additionally, some of our larger customers alert us to promising products and enterprises too small for them to nurture but with potential that, once realized, can become viable products in their store inventories."

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  • Vertical Foods Image 1

    Contact

    For Vertical Foods contact Casey Hollnagel at (559)-743-0100
    Learn more at verticalfoodsllc.com

VERTICAL FOODS, LLC

New trends in American culinary tastes create new niches for entrepreneurial food companies.

Vertical Foods has seized one of these niches, specialty fruits, by matching its unique expertise in growing and shipping these seasonal fruits with the expanding demand for high-quality figs, persimmons, pomegranates, fresh prunes, kiwifruit, apricots, chestnuts, and specialty plums.


The strength of our retail partnerships comes from the fact that we ship what we grow, and our experience gives us the necessary command of logistics, creating cost-effective ways of aggregating different fruits so that shipping is timely and efficient. To this we add value by implementing the various packing options for each item that display the fruit in ways that drive consumer satisfaction with superior retail displays. In short, our retail customers get what they need when they need it.


In the end, however, the real value of specialty fruits from Vertical Foods is that we understand that to excel in our niche, we must grow fruits that deliver what today’s consumer of our product demands: superior taste and appearance to deliver a great eating experience.


That’s the kind of specialty fruits we grow and that’s why our customers buy them—to satisfy their customers, the consumer.

Meet the team

Casey Hollnagel
General Manager

A quick study in transportation/logistics for Supervalu, Hollnagel advanced quickly to Field Buyer in Philadelphia, where his contacts with South American growers culminated in his being recruited by Fresh 1 Marketing, Inc. After managing east coast import operations for C.H. Robinson, Hollnagel went to Stellar Distributing. There he built strong relationships with San Joaquin valley growers, more than doubled sales, and expanded the specialty fruits category before starting Vertical Foods.

Danny Sandoval
Sales

Born into an agriculture family, Danny has been in the fields since he was old enough to walk. Throughout his school years, his extra time was spent working in produce. He has done everything from driving tractors during stone fruit season, picking table grapes during summers, figs and apples during the fall, and pruning in the winter. Once his experience in the fields had peaked, he started to work in quality control. Eventually, his experience landed him at Stellar Distributing where he managed grower relations, as well as being responsible for sales. In 2013, Danny joined the Vertical team contributing to the growth of the company bringing with him his grower relations and sales expertise.

Bryce Haley
Sales

A graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Haley was recruited out of college by Coastal Berry Company where he learned the basics of the fresh fruit business. His reputation for establishing long-term customer relationships resulted in Regatta Tropicals hiring him to enhance their sales of import and domestic specialty fruit. He came to us to head up sales of Fall specialty fruits, in which he specializes.



  • Greenwave Farms Image 1

    Contact

    For Green Wave Contact Joel R. at (323)-476-1774
    Learn more at greenwavefarms.com

GREENWAVE FARMS, LLC

We are a grower-owned, fully-integrated produce company that specializes in value-added products for retail and foodservice.

Our customers are retail and foodservice companies who find that forging a direct relationship with their growers gives them superior quality, safe produce, and the flexibility of product choice and custom specifications that only comes from dealing direct with the grower. This direct relationship also benefits our growers, allowing them the flexibility to work in imaginative ways with our customers, a process often impossible in a large, commercial agribusiness environment.


With well over 10% of our products organic, we are expanding our organic growing capacity with 250 acres recently certified and more acreage in transition.


We offer a full service consolidation/storage/repack program in a 54,000 sq. ft. Los Angeles facility with 4 temperature zones, including a "Wash down" processing room, cross-docking, forward distribution, and deliveries.


Our food safety and facility management team in this facility boasts over seventy-five years in the produce business, having held positions in some of the nation’s largest produce companies.

Meet the team

Joel Rudnick
Managing Partner

In his fourteen years of service at MCL Fresh, the last half as vice president of sales, Rudnick was instrumental in growing this business into a major L.A. warehousing, distribution and organic produce operation. Involved in all aspects of the company’s growth, he helped to oversee the changes in food safety, distribution logistics, and technological advancements that marked the significant changes in the produce industry in the last decade.

Miguel Ibarra
Director of Operations

Known for being one of the most proactive operations managers in the industry, Ibarra has held key management position in operations and production with companies such as River Ranch Fresh Foods and the Los Angeles Salad Company. His ability to reduce labor expenses while increasing productivity comes from his experience in bilingual staff training and development that results in optimum levels of food and plant safety.



  • Epic Foods Image 1

    Contact

    831-751-6700

    for Epic Foods contact Matt Cosgriff

EPIC FOODS, LLC

Epic Foods’ contribution to our country’s transition from the meat and potatoes America of the 1950’s to the sophisticated, multi-cuisine, fresh-food conscious America of the twenty-first century has been pioneered by Todd Koons, a chef / farmer / organic visionary.

His companies, Todd Koons Organics (known as TKO Farms) evolved into Epic Roots which evolved into Epic Foods, not only changed the way we eat — Koons created the first bagged organic spring mix — but the way our food is made safe before we eat it — Koons invented the triple washing process that all bagged salads and vegetables now undergo before they are bagged.


At Epic Foods, Koons harnesses his diverse expertise as chef, farmer, and guru of multi-national cuisines to customize a variety of food items, including a host of private label specialty salads and private label custom salads (one-of-a-kind created to meet the needs of a particular customer). Koons periodically travels the world where his network of culinary and agricultural peers keeps him alerted to new items and advances influencing their national cuisines. Koons possesses an extraordinary ability to select things that will dovetail with his American products to create something new.


An example? His introduction of field-grown mâche as not only a stand-alone salad green but as an ingredient in specialty salads with other baby greens succeeded because Koons grew the mâche himself in the Salinas Valley and brought it to market.


Meet the team

Todd Koons
Founder

Profiled in The New Yorker and called a “visionary farmer” by TIME, Koons’ international reputation as a chef at Chez Panisse, creator of entirely new produce categories such as bagged organic spring mix and mâche, and his innovative marketing techniques make him a highly visible pundit in the food industry. His vision provides the Group with lucrative niche markets.

Matt Cosgriff
Sales Manager

As president of a start-up regional processor serving the Boston, New York, and Philadelphia metro areas, Cosgriff ‘s responsibilities included managing and often participating in logistics, production, new product development, business development and sales. He chose to specialize in high-end specialty salads and led the company to success as the preferred supplier to many white tablecloth restaurants and upmarket retailers before returning to California to join Epic Foods.

Moneel Singh
Sales

Moneel Singh joined the team at Epic Foods after 6 years in the hospitality industry. With a strong accounting and financial background, Moneel brings expertise in forecasting, modeling, and replenishment. His years of working in the Hospitality industry coupled with his accounting skills gives Moneel a unique skill set to the fresh produce industry. Moneel is developing and managing supply chain solutions that maintain optimum service levels to our customers.



  • Fresh Produce Partners

    Contact

    For Fresh Produce contact John Lukasko or David Tucker at 831-751-6700
    Learn more at freshprollc.com

FRESH PRODUCE PARTNERS

Fresh Produce Partners embodies a new approach to an old idea. Partnering with growers to create the most efficient supply chain we ensure that the safest and freshest produce arrives at the end user’s door every day.

Fresh Produce Partners is committed to the end-user, leveraging resources to drive cost out of the system. We include aggregated purchasing, comprehensive food safety management, and customized pricing and reporting as the cornerstones of our successful program.


We thrive through collaborating with partners in the field to maximize the value of our network. We are working with non-competing distributors allowing us to perform at the highest level.


Fresh Produce Partners and its members have aggregated resources to ensure the best value from the supply chain. Some of the services that we offer include the following; procurement, food safety management, grower marketing, distributor marketing, contract management & account management. We provide the highest quality safe produce, aggregated sourcing for the best pricing, creating value for the entire supply chain.


We share expertise to make every member stronger. The advantages of working with Fresh Produce Partners includes full transparency, built for distributors by distributors. Distributors are Partners; Distributors share the value created.


We are proud of our independence and the power of a strong network.

Meet the team

Joe Merenda

Recruited from Coca-Cola by C.H. Robinson, Joe built the Fresh 1 ® Marketing Division from scratch to an organization that included foodservice, retail and wholesale distribution and sales . As director of business development at Foodsource, he took the foodservice from $50K to over $100MM and helped grow the overall business from $150MM to over $750MM.

John Lukasko

John is a Produce veteran with 15+ years of experience building and managing complex end-user programs. John has worked in many facets of the industry as a grower/shipper, in logistics and distribution, and strategic account management. John’s track record of creating successful “field to fork” programs for National and Regional Restaurant Chains that benefit growers, distributors, and end-users is unmatched.

David Tucker

David is a Salinas Valley Native with 20+ years in the fresh produce industry. David has worked in all facets of Food Service and Retail sales and Marketing, including inspections, consolidation, grower sales, and logistics. David brings unparalleled expertise across multiple categories from Apples to Zucchini.

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9777 Blue Larkspur Ln Ste 102
Monterey, CA 93940


Phone: (831) 417-8585

New businesses, Contact Joe at:

jmerenda@theharbingerllc.com

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