2019- A FRESH New Year

As we enter into 2019, it’s an exciting time to be in produce. Produce is no longer just a healthy food option. Produce is becoming a way of life. Technology has given rise to new means of convenience for previously laborious items, and social media has created a platform for produce to show of its funky, modern, and sexy side. The produce industry is flourishing with innovative new ideas and markets, and DNO is right there with it.

2019 marks DNO’s 30th Anniversary. From a small central Ohio co-op to one of the leading distributors and fresh cut processors in the midwest, DNO has had a long journey to where it is today. I sat down with DNO founder, Tony Dinovo, over the holiday to discuss his thoughts of the past 3 decades. When asked how he felt entering the big 3-0 year, he said “Surprised.” If you are in the produce industry and are reading this, that answer probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you. The produce industry is not for the faint of heart. It’s a volatile industry that could be sent into a downward spiral by a simple storm or letter from the FDA. That being said, if you are in the produce industry, you would probably not be surprised by Tony’s second answer “Grateful.” Tony is grateful for the 30 years in business, but also for the 30 years of relationships and friendships created. For Tony, this industry is more than just business- it’s family.

Tony came from a family strongly rooted in the produce industry. He remembers one of his first jobs helping his dad pack bananas by taking them off the stalk they arrived on and avoiding snakes and spiders that also came in on the stalks. You read that correctly- snakes and spiders in the bananas!! The produce industry has clearly come a long way. In 1989, Tony bought the central Ohio co-op located on the Columbus terminal that would become DNO Produce Inc. It was an electrifying time to be at the terminal with lots of foot and truck traffic, but a few years in Tony happened upon an opportunity to try something new in the industry and bought a small fresh cut processing facility.

30 years ago, fresh cut was very different than it is today. Mostly retail, Tony serviced a few grocery store chains as one of the only fresh cut processors in the area at that time. Tony also had a gift for finding niche areas of the industry and making it happen. Sometimes being that cutting edge paid off, but sometimes it’s just considered a lesson learned the hard way (I’ll spare you the saga of the caramel apple machine).

I asked Tony to describe the produce industry in 3 words. He chose “Fast. Trusting. Hard.” Tony went on to discuss how important trust is in this industry as well as always looking ahead. I then asked Tony to describe DNO in 3 words, and he said “Growing. Young. Honest.” I think those words accurately describe the DNO of today- now led by Tony’s son- Alex Dinovo. Within the last year that Alex has been in charge, DNO has seen outstanding growth both in personnel and square footage.

2019 should be a great year for DNO. With a fresh, easier-to-navigate website and our Fresh Press blog, we look forward to starting more conversations and hearing from you as well! As Tony would say this is an industry about relationships, and we value you all as partners and friends.

Rachel Weiler