New York apple icons—New York Apple Sales and Red Jacket Orchards—have joined forces
This spring, the principals of Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, NY, and New York Apple Sales Inc., headquartered in Glenmont, NY, agreed to join their fresh apple marketing programs to provide better service and more opportunities for their customers.
Red Jacket Orchards, commonly referred to as RJO, is a powerhouse in the all-natural, cold-pressed juice and cider category. The firm has built its Red Jacket brand in the beverage and fresh apple category over multiple family generations.
New York Apple Sales, or NYAS, is likewise a multigenerational family business that has built a reputation for delivering high quality apples to large retailers nationally and internationally.
“Bringing our sales forces together to better serve the apple and juice markets only makes sense,” said Mark Nicholson, fresh business president and co-owner of RJO. “Presently, we are serving customers at the same time with either fresh apples or fresh juice, and with today’s increasing pressure on trucking logistics, combining our orders with NYAS will greatly benefit both of our customers.
“Our plan is for the RJO sales force to continue managing the juice sales, while NYAS will focus on the fresh apple category,” said Nicholson. “Both teams will continue to concentrate on what they do best.”
He added that NYAS’s much larger distribution network will be a huge benefit for both companies, and more importantly, for customers.
Mike Messler, production and logistics manager for NYAS, said, “Because of new federal regulations, trucking can be a huge problem today. The cost of trucking is increasing while the availability of trucks is decreasing. Any consolidation of orders will benefit us all.”
Also beneficial in the partnership is that the RJO juice plant is within 35 miles of the NYAS packing operation, where RJO apples will also be packed.
John Cushing, vice president of sales for NYAS, pointed out that over the years RJO has developed a sizeable following in New York City and other regional markets.
“We are pleased to now be able to continue the brand penetration with the RJO label in their existing markets as well as expanding into new markets,” said Cushing. “We are excited about having the RJO fresh apple brand in our wheelhouse. I can already see the synergies that will take place with customers we both serve; they do juice, we do apples. It is a great fit. In the future we expect that we can expand both categories.”
In fact both companies have deep roots in the New York apple industry.
Kaari Stannard, NYAS’ owner, said her step-dad, Marty Michelson, founded the company, and Joe Nicholson of RJO were both industry leaders in the state’s apple Industry.
“Both Joe and Marty were individual entrepreneurs, but they both shared a common goal to grow New York State’s apple industry,” said Stannard. “With our two companies working together today, we are continuing that goal.”
Brian Nicholson, chief executive officer of RJO, is Mark Nicholson’s brother and co-owner. He said agrees totally with Stannard.
“The transition of a family business from one generation to the next is fraught with challenge,” he stressed. “RJO recently completed a step in that process when Mark and I purchased our father’s portion of the company. Similar to how our father spearheaded the company’s growth from a roadside retailer into a commercial apple grower, packer and shipper after our grandfather retired in the early 1980s, we have also set our strategic goals high.”
The Nicholson brothers are intent on building a world class beverage company that is also well grounded in the production of its main raw ingredient in the apple orchard. They have examined opportunities afforded by packing, selling and distributing through NYAS. RJO has ceased its packing operations in Geneva and moved the function to its Pomona Packing partners in Wolcott, NY. The company will continue to pack summer fruits at its Geneva location.
Jim Allen, vice president of marketing for NYAS, said Kelli Foster, director of brand management for RJO, is his counterpart.
“Kelli has been a brand builder for RJO, and we are looking forward to working with her on all levels,” remarked Allen. “There’s a wonderful strategic advantage when you can combine an operational power house like NYAS, and a trusted brand of the community like Red Jacket.”
Foster added, “I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together.”