Tom Oliveri, Longtime Western Growers Association Staffer, Passes Away
- by Kayla Webb
IRVINE, CA - It is with a heavy heart that we learned of the passing of longtime Western Growers' staffer Tom Oliveri. Affectionately known across the industry as “Tommy O,” Oliveri retired from the association in January 2018, several months shy of his 40th anniversary of service. Throughout his career, which spanned over four decades, Oliveri demonstrated uncommon dedication to the Western Growers’ membership, establishing himself as a foremost authority in the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
“Tommy was a rare breed, an expert in his craft who brought a fierce determination to protect our members when disputes arose between parties in commerce,” stated Western Growers President and CEO, Dave Puglia. “Among the WG membership, Tommy probably had the highest name identification of any WG employee; at some point, just about every WG member turned to him for help and he always jumped to their aid. He absolutely loved going to bat for our members and his tireless work boosted many bottom lines. His passing comes as a shock to us all. We join with so many in our industry today in offering our deepest condolences to Tommy’s family.”
From a young age, Oliveri was drawn to agriculture. Throughout high school he worked summer jobs in the industry and became an inspector for the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Standardization Program in college. After earning his degree in agricultural biology from Cal Poly Pomona in 1977, Oliveri answered an advertisement to be a Grower Field Representative for Western Growers, earning the position over stiff competition in March 1978.
After several years as a Southern California Field Representative, Oliveri joined the marketing services department under the head of another recently-retired, longtime Western Growers staffer, Matt McInerney. As the Director of what is now known as the Trade Practices and Commodity Services Department, Oliveri filed countless PACA claims and helped recover millions of dollars for WG members, and became an invaluable resource on issues related to inspections, arrival issues, trade disputes and unpaid claims, a press release explained. Over the years, Oliveri also provided seminars for all Western Grower members educating the industry on their rights and remedies under PACA law.
Even though he retired from the association in January 2018, Oliveri couldn’t stay away from the fresh produce industry for long, and joined the law firm of Rynn & Janowsky as a PACA consultant, where he remained engaged up to his passing.
He was devoted to his children, and is survived by his son, Matt, and his daughter, Marci. In his recreational time, he enjoyed boating, fishing, and was known as quite the baseball player in his younger days.
The passing of Oliveri will leave a Tommy O-shaped hole in the hearts of everyone who knew him, admired him, and considered him a friend. His quick wit and sense of humor will be missed.
We here at AndNowUKnow extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.