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OTFC shakeup results in board, staff changes

New CEO confident pieces are in place to move forward, with no room for independent sellers.

By Judie Steeves W

ith a new hand at the helm of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative, there also has

been a change in direction and a few different faces at facilities throughout the Okanagan Valley. New chief executive officer Alan

Tyabji says he is feeling the optimism building and he’s getting e-mails and calls from people who are happy with the new direction of the valley’s major co-operative. Following the election of two newcomers to OTFC board at the fall annual general meeting—for the third year in a row—the new board’s first action was to let CEO Gary Schieck go and to hire Alan Tyabji. Schieck came to the amalgamated

co-op from the North Okanagan Co- op, where he had worked for a couple of decades, while Tyabji spent a couple of decades at the Okanagan- Similkameen Co-op. Within weeks, Tyabji had moved Dennis Fleming from quality control in Kelowna to manage South Okanagan operations for the OTFC, letting Harj Dhillon go, so Fleming will manage both the Oliver and Osoyoos facilities. A manager was needed on the ground in the south whom growers could reach out and touch, Tyabji said, since the head office is in Kelowna.

Operations manager Rod Vint was

let go at the same time as Schieck. “I’m feeling good about the future,”

says Tyabji. “Now I have the people in place.”

12 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Winter 2012-13 He has re-hired

Ed Huffman in sales to strengthen local sales of binned apples; fruit that has been graded and sized, but is unstickered and doesn’t meet the stringent demands of the marketplace for size —fruit that would otherwise be diverted as culls. “Instead of going

Alan Tyabji has taken over as chief executive officer of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative.

for juice, it will be sold. We’re trying to sell more fruit,” he explains. However, he is adamant that all the apples grown by OTFC members must go through the house; that growers can’t pick and choose to sell some fruit to independent shippers and some through the co-op.

Those who wish to sell independently should not join the co- op.

Tyabji believes membership in the

co-op is less about the number of growers than it is about the quality of the fruit that comes in.

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