The Ruby Company
Buffalo Grove, IL
Hometown: Buffalo Grove, IL
Hobbies: Golf, Chicago Bears, Cooking, Movies
Family/Community: Single and looking. Uncle to be.
Motto in life: Turn obstacles into opportunities.
Gelyana has managed remarkable accomplishments for The Ruby Company in just five short years, becoming an expert in potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and apples. He began his career in produce at Ruby in 2019 as an associate procurement specialist, where he was responsible for assisting procurement and sales teams in commodity purchasing, specific to potatoes and onions.
After expanding his book of business relationships with growers and general knowledge of the produce industry, he was promoted to procurement specialist in 2022. In this role, he is responsible for handling much of Ruby’s multi-unit foodservice accounts as well as its USDA business. He worked to help identify opportunities for fresh produce programs and get Ruby set up as an approved vendor for the USDA. This led to Ruby receiving several significant awards for commodities such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and apples. His also helps train and manage new employees on the procurement team. He is also a member of Ruby’s culture committee that is responsible for creating a fun, dynamic and productive work environment for current and future employees.
Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?
After getting my degree from the University of Iowa, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. I served as a producer on a horror film, spending roughly four years raising the finances, shooting the actual movie and then selling distribution across the world. Then, I returned to Chicago, and took a job at a small manufacturing company doing sales and operations for two years before joining the Ruby Company. I owe my success to Jeff Weisman, senior vice president and partner at Ruby who I have known for over 20 years. I trained and worked under him and immediately fell in love with the fast pace and high energy of the produce industry.
Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
I used to get really anxious when there was a delay or issue with a delivery. This industry is full of surprises when it comes to transportation and moving fresh produce across the country, so keeping customers updated is incredibly valuable valuable.
Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
We take pride in our ability to serve LTL customers just as easily and affordably as FTL customers. Piecing together potato and onion trucks can be a challenge, especially in tight freight markets, but we worked hard to establish a strong base of customers across the country to be able to offer LTL’s to just about anywhere.
Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?
Teach and encourage more people to cook at home. I personally love to cook, but I know a lot of people who don’t, and order out for every meal. You learn a respect for fresh produce through cooking and are able to get creative with what’s left in the fridge.
Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
I always believed there was big upside to do business with the government. I was able to help identify opportunities for fresh produce programs and get us set up as an approved vendor for the USDA. This eventually led to us receiving several significant awards for commodities such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and apples, which I am incredibly proud of.