The Oppenheimer Group announces that effective January 1, 2017 J. David Smith will be promoted to the role of president and chief marketing officer for the leading fresh produce marketing and distribution company.
Smith will have strategic oversight of sales, categories and marketing. Operations, finance and human resources will continue to report to Oppy Chairman, President and CEO John Anderson. This change enables Anderson to delegate more of the day-to-day operation of the business to Oppy’s proven leaders and focus increasingly on the strategic growth of the organization.
“It’s difficult to articulate David Smith’s immense contributions to our growth and success,” Anderson said. “He has established himself as a highly effective strategist who truly cares about the results we achieve for our growers and service to our customers, as well as the realization of our many other objectives. He’s a strong leader with unparalleled knowledge of our business and a proven acumen for connecting our grower partners’ yields with the demands of the market to the benefit of all.”
Congruent with Smith’s promotion and positioning Oppy to continue executing its remarkable growth trajectory, James Milne has been elevated to vice president of marketing, David Nelley and Steve Woodyear-Smith are the company’s new vice presidents of categories, and Fernando Caudillo has been named category director of tropicals.
“I’m very proud to announce these promotions,” said Anderson. “Our company has enjoyed significant strategic growth over the past several years, thanks in large part to the proven leadership of these individuals and the teams they guide and empower. In their new roles, they can focus their energies even more specifically to the achievement of our future goals.”
All five have tracked lengthy and productive careers with Oppy; between them they have well over a century of experience with the company.
Smith joined Oppy as a sales representative in 1989, building Oppy’s business initially in the Southwestern U.S. before driving overall growth with numerous key national accounts. He was appointed vice president of sales and categories in 2006, and further promoted to senior vice president of North American sales and categories in 2012, and executive vice president and chief marketing officer in 2014.
Meanwhile, Milne, Nelley, Woodyear-Smith and Caudillo have contributed by leading specific Oppy categories and operational disciplines successfully over the years.
Milne’s multifaceted and comprehensive experience has positioned him well for the vice president of marketing position. He has either led or facilitated the strategy for virtually every Oppy category during his career, while also garnering in-depth knowledge of the North American retail landscape.
First coming to Canada in 1994 to lead the North American marketing campaigns for Oppy partner ENZA, Milne took over Oppy’s entire apple and pear category as its pipfruit category director in 1997. He continued to be pivotal in the introduction of ENZA Braeburn and Pacific Rose apples to North America, while setting the stage for highly-popular JAZZ and Envy apples’ later launch. In early 2001, Milne became Oppy’s director of marketing, leading the company’s comprehensive rebranding and repositioning initiatives.
In 2006, Milne returned to the grower realm as category director for greenhouse and citrus. He was appointed category director for the company’s citrus and avocado lines in 2009, and added the responsibility for Oppy’s overall marketing efforts as director of marketing in 2010. Milne was promoted to the dual role of executive category director of avocados and citrus and executive director of marketing two years later.
Milne will continue to guide the company’s cohesive marketing platform, leading the team responsible for brand and product development initiatives, marketing communications strategies, and knowledge-based sales approaches―among other enterprises. He also provides strategic oversight to Oppy’s business development group.
Nelley and Woodyear-Smith have been promoted from executive category director roles to vice president of category roles.
Most recently responsible for Oppy’s apple, pear and Northwest cherry programs, Nelley became West Coast marketing manager for ENZA in Seattle in 1995. In 1997, Nelley was relocated to Singapore as ENZA's marketing manager for Northeast Asia, then returned to North America in early 2001 as Oppy’s apple and pear category manager. A ‘40 Under 40’ recipient in this role, Nelley built the year-round market for ENZA’s apples and pears, and was instrumental in establishing sales for the Washington-grown JAZZ, Envy and Pacific Rose.
In 2014, Nelley was promoted to executive category director for apples, pears and Northwest cherries, responsible for Oppy’s Orchard View cherry program, guiding its growth through a strong partnership and strategic distribution and marketing approach.
Moving forward, Nelley will be vice president of Oppy’s apple, pear and cherry categories, and oversee its export strategy for products originating in North America.
Woodyear-Smith, who most recently served as executive category director of tropicals, will take on the role of vice president of categories for tropicals, citrus and avocados.
Woodyear-Smith joined Oppy as kiwifruit category director in 2000, after ten years in management positions with kiwifruit leader Zespri International Ltd. Residing in Hong Kong and Taiwan, he developed and managed Zespri kiwifruit marketing activities for Asia and was instrumental in the introduction of gold kiwifruit both there and later in North America. In 2002, Woodyear-Smith began managing Oppy’s mango category, and added pineapples to his area of focus in 2014, to round out his role as executive category director of tropicals.
Over the last decade and a half, Woodyear-Smith has been instrumental in the growth pattern for New Zealand kiwifruit in North America, and building Zespri into one of the most trusted produce brands in the trade. He has further entrenched Oppy’s position as a kiwifruit marketer with high quality programs from the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
Woodyear-Smith will be supported by Caudillo, who has been promoted to category director of tropicals from his role as Oppy’s West Coast tropical category manager, which he has held since 2014. His experience spans sales, QC, supply chain and operations gained with Oppy since 1989, serving as grower relations manager from 2003 to 2005, and North America quality control and operations manager for the following decade. Caudillo contributed significantly to Oppy’s Mexican grape, and California grape and greenhouse business over the years before specializing in tropicals, which he will continue in his new position.
Marketing Communications Manager