The point man behind Robinson Fresh says there was a much bigger learning curve than he anticipated when he moved from dairy to fresh produce — not to mention that his two boys had to get used to iceberg lettuce instead of ice cream when dad came home with samples.
“Weather and time impact all fresh foods, but they don’t impact milk as much as nomadic crops,” said Drew Schwartzhoff, director of marketing, products and services for C.H. Robinson. “If you don’t understand the whole (supply) chain you can’t be a manager in produce.”
Schwartzhoff, 36, started his career at Hormel Foods LLC and later worked for Kemps LLC before joining C.H. Robinson in 2010 as director of sourcing marketing.
He was promoted to his current post in January after working on development of the Robinson Fresh brand for more than two years. The new corporate brand launched in May. It combines the Foodsource Inc., Timco Worldwide and Rosemont Farms brands under one banner.
“It’s the most challenging strategic project I’ve ever worked on,” he said. “Changing the name of a 110-year-old company was a big deal. It began as a project to do deep dive customer interviews to find out their impressions.”
Schwartzhoff said many people didn’t understand the company’s acquisitions of the produce entities and they often confused the transportation side of the business with the produce side.
The solution was the umbrella brand Robinson Fresh, which earned high praise from C.H. Robinson’s senior vice president Jim Lemke and global marketing director Mark Derks.
“Drew has been able to define what marketing is and can be within the Robinson Fresh group,” Lemke said. “He understands the needs from the field and he shows what we get in tangible results and outputs.”
Derks said Schwartzhoff’s understanding of strategic marketing is the key that is unlocking the potential of Robinson Fresh. “Drew understands the global marketplace, continental and local supply regions, and how customers and suppliers deliver products to consumers with the expectation of fresh quality and food safety,” Derks said.
Schwartzhoff, however, refuses to stand in the spotlight alone.
“I had the opportunity to lead the project. I can’t take credit for the whole thing,” he said. “I believe in service leadership … The company has set that culture and I just continue it. You have to have clear accountability, though, and measure against that.”