Burnac Produce Shares Vision on Maintaining Quality and Excellence During the Time of COVID-19
- by Jordan Okumura
VAUGHAN, ON, CANADA - Dynamic, nimble, differentiated, and loyal—these are the distinctions attributed to the team at Burnac Produce. In times of thick or thin, this industry trailblazer has stepped up to the plate to drive innovation, even in the most challenging of circumstances. If you were to ask the team how they thrive in a market full of hurdles and chaos, they will tell you that a deep commitment to the customers, the people, and the products of this industry allow their team to pave their own unique path while inviting a progressive transformation as they go.
“2020 has been a milestone year given these unprecedented times. The challenges in this environment have allowed us to rediscover our strengths and refine and adapt our processes and priorities with new perspective and insight,” Lorne Burnett, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, shares with me. “When the impact of COVID-19 rippled through our industry, we relied on our teams’ ability and desire to act quickly and proactively with one of our most valued tenets: integrity.”
As stay-at-home orders came down around Canada, North America, and the world, the ag industry’s essential workers emerged as true heroes in the effort to keep consumers fed. Always mindful of how reliant customers are on Burnac, the team utilized its network of loyal and trustworthy relationships to make sure they never missed a beat with global, regional, and local sourcing—and not just when it came to distributing produce, but servicing any needs of its customers in general.
“Customers continue to come back to Burnac because of the quality of our products and consistency and availability of our offerings, combined with the integrity, commitment, and professionalism our team emulates,” Lorne expresses.
Balancing employees’ safety and ensuring that they could operate in a sustainable fashion while providing key resources to the customer has also been top of mind.
“Passion with integrity—these are the values that surfaced when COVID-19 hit. We spared no expense when it came to safety,” Domenic Raso, Co-Chief Executive Officer, reflects. “When we entered uncharted territory, we ensured both of those values were instilled in the organization from the warehouse floor, where we implemented a safe workplace for employees, all the way through to a showroom that we built for our customers, which allowed them to conduct business fluidly and nimbly.”
These Provincial Fruit and Rite-Pak showrooms located at the Ontario Food Terminal that the team speaks of have positioned not only Burnac for continued success in times of crisis, but most importantly, Burnac’s customers and employees as well. Open to every independent retail customer throughout Ontario and nationally as well—that have access to the Ontario Food Terminal—this showroom is just one example of the high level of innovation and differentiation that Burnac brings to the fresh produce industry.
“These Burnac projects are the only secure customer dedicated showrooms on the terminal market that separate wholesale operations from that of a retail showroom. They are designed with eye-appeal to present the complete suite of offerings both conventionally and organically, segmented among the complete scope of our product lines,” Lorne tells me.
The showroom is, of course, set up in a COVID-19-friendly, socially distant environment with all the necessary safeguards, Domenic adds. The facility innovates a new operational flow to align with the changing needs of the business and the circumstances that are impacting the market and relationships. This plan of Burnac’s, well, I call it a pioneering blueprint.
“We implemented action items with various protocols pertaining to COVID-19 throughout Burnac’s operations and the showroom, from separating the facilities, proper PPE, and social distancing to so much more,” he adds. “The provincial government even looked to Burnac for guidance and insight when it came to creating their own action plan on what to implement and what not to. Collaboration is key during times like these.”
Putting aside differences and focusing on a task at hand for the betterment of clients and the sustainability of growers around the world is what matters most.
“Our ability to act quickly is derived from our passion and unwavering commitment that resonates throughout our company,” Lorne says. “Combining that passion with necessity—the mother of invention—and you can do anything.”
With so much under its belt already, it is hard to imagine that this is only one piece of the story that makes up the team and the tenacity of Burnac Produce. So, please, stay tuned for more as we take you into an even deeper dive of Burnac Produce.