(July 22) As America’s love affair with the personal computer continues to flourish, so does the influence of computer technology in the marketing of pears.

“I was just discussing with (a co-worker) how we spend so much more time on our computers today conversing via e-mail than we used to even two or three years ago,” said David Thiessen, sales manager for Scully Packing Co. LLC, Finley, Calif. “There are a lot of Internet-based platforms that our customers like us to use now. It’s becoming a real critical tool in the whole industry.”

Steve Johnson, marketing director for Johnson Orchards Inc., Ukiah, Calif., concurs.

“E-mail is definitely playing a bigger role, and people can address the issues on e-mail pretty quickly, and it’s a little more efficient,” he said. “There are some buyers who want you to e-mail them more than call them. We’re using it a lot more, and it’s also a good way to have less of an impact on client’s time.”

Thiessen said he considers e-mail efficient but not in all respects.

“There’s a fair amount of double data entries, which creates more work for us, but it is part of the game,” he said.

And, it’s a game that almost everyone is playing.

Patrick Archibecque, salesman for All State Packers Inc., Lodi, Calif., said his company handled ordering and reconciliation via computer, especially with national accounts.

At Sierra Produce, Newport Beach, Calif., president Roland Berndt said all of its salesmen have a terminal on their desks and a personal e-mail account.

“The more basic things that we can put over on e-mail or the Internet, the better it is to give general information,” he said. “The phone is still an important tool when it gets down to specifics. But (e-mail) definitely helps chop out a lot of questions. We want to be as progressive and up-to-date in this regard.”

Atomic Torosian, chief executive officer of Crown Jewels Marketing & Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif., said his firm conducted electronic data interchange and inventory management via the Internet with large retailers.

“We’re pretty adept at it,” he said.