Following what Star Produce is calling a “strategic partnership” with BC Hot House, some BC Hot House executives, including its president, are leaving the company to join Houweling’s Hot House Group.

Mike Reed, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Star Produce’s former vice president of marketing and business development, has taken the reins as president at BC Hot House, Langley, British Columbia. Brian Beggs, its former president, left mid-summer, and starts as chief marketing officer at Delta, British Columbia-based Houweling’s Sept. 7.

Reed said the deal closed June 15, and is a partnership focusing on logistics, marketing and sales services. BC Hot House had been looking for a partner for a year, Reed said, but he declined to elaborate on the terms of the agreement or if the company has changed hands.

“BC Hot House remains a standalone company the same as it was before June 15, the only changes are that it will be able to use Star Produce’s resources around logistics, sales and marketing, and that its president has moved on and I have stepped in,” Reed said. “We’re able to utilize Star Produce’s logistics support, sales support and marketing support to offset those areas in BC Hot House.”

Reed said BC Hot House will continue to serve existing customers, but that Star Produce has connections, particularly in Western Canada, that could open new business for the company.

Star Produce is a full-line produce company whose greenhouse business is concentrated around the winter months, when it is not growing in Canada. BC Hot House has been light on produce during the winter, when Canadian greenhouse shippers source from Mexico, but is stepping up those efforts this year, Reed said.

Reed has been with BC Hot House before, from 1997 to 2004, most recently as vice president of sales. He started with the company as a category manager, then moved into sales. He joined The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, as greenhouse category director in 2004. He was with Oppenheimer four years, eventually as executive director of marketing. He joined Star Produce mid-2008.

Oppenheimer is Houweling's distributor partner.

“I’ve come full-circle,” Reed said. “I’ve been in the greenhouse business for 12 years, so I’m familiar with the company, the growers and the customers.”

Star Produce partners with BC Hot House
Star Produce partners with BC Hot House

Beggs

Beggs started his career in produce in finance, and joined BC Hot House as chief finance officer in 2003. He was promoted to president in 2005.

Beggs worked for Dole Thailand for ten years before joining BC Hot House. He also served as chief financial officer for a California seafood company and the Seattle Mariners baseball team during his 40-year career, said Kirk Homenick, director of sales and marketing at Houweling’s.

Homenick shares his title with Craig Laker, a 25-year BC Hot House veteran, until Homenick leaves the company at the end of the growing season mid-fall.

“My position was basically split into two (for Beggs and Laker),” Homenick said. He had indicated his desire to pursue other career interests, he said.

Laker joins Houweling’s along with Beggs Sept. 7. At BC Hot House, he was director of sales and inventory management and manager of global procurement, before his most recent position as director of sales and global procurement.

Before joining BC Hot House, Laker worked for a few local Vancouver produce companies, Homenick said.

“He was kind of at the front end of the whole greenhouse category and the whole growth of greenhouses by and large, especially in the area on the West Coast,” Homenick said.

Kevin Batt succeeds Laker as director of sales for BC Hot House. He was with the company from 2000-02 as a sales coordinator, and spent the last eight years at Oppenheimer as greenhouse category manager.

Jan Barrett also rejoined BC Hot House, as account manager, after leaving this spring. She had spent 12 years at BC Hot House, first working in the plant, and for the last six in sales, Reed said.

Star Produce has entered similar partnerships with other companies over the last several years, Reed said, but he declined to share specifics.

Note on correction: The original article misrepresented The Oppenheimer Group's relation to BC Hot House. BC Hot House distributes direct to its customers. Oppenheimer is Houweling's distributor partner.