2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Dan Sebetic

Sales Director–East Coast
The Oppenheimer Group (Oppy)
Coquitlam, British Columbia

Age: 40
Hometown: Kenosha, WI
Hobbies: Traveling, Golfing, Working-Out, Music (DJ-ing,) BBQ, Sneakerhead
Family/Community: Married, 2 daughters
Motto in life: Get sh*t done.

Sebetic was introduced to the industry in 2001 while working at Woodman’s Food Markets during high school and while attending the University of Wisconsin – Parkside. During this time, he worked in just about every department at the Kenosha store. After graduating, he took on a full-time position as manager of the produce department at the company’s new location in Oak Creek. After spending 14 years in the stores, he decided to pursue an opportunity as a business development representative at The Oppenheimer Group in 2014. In this new position, he was able to venture out to different markets, establish innovative promotions with accounts and build new relationships. Two years later, he was promoted sales manager in Oppy’s Chicago office.

In 2018, he took a position with Heartland Produce as a sales representative to be closer to home. In 2022, he returned to Oppy and about a year later, he became director of sales for the East Coast. Working from Des Plaines, IL, he is in close communication with Oppy’s Chicago, Newark and Tampa offices. As sales director, he is focused on implementing Oppy’s sales strategy, building new distribution, program business and selling to key customers.

Sebetic is known for thriving at introducing new products. He helped build the Midwest market for Envy apples early in his Oppy career, and more recently led the team’s introduction of Happy Berry hydroponic strawberries.

Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?

I started working for Woodman’s Food Markets when I was 16. During my 14 years with the company, I did everything from bagging, checking, stocking, cleaning, etc. Eventually, there was a new store opening, and I decided to sign up for a few department head positions, one of them being produce manager. I was selected and began training with someone who was extremely passionate about the industry. Without his mentorship, I probably would have never gone down this path.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?

By making produce exciting. My biggest pet peeve is when produce is just placed on a shelf in its routine “planogram” spot. I’m a big fan of creative “impulse” displays. Maybe the customer didn’t want to buy a specific product when they went into the store that day, but they just couldn’t refuse to buy it because of the display’s impact.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Getting the opportunity to become a business development representative. I remember just coming into the supplier side of the business — I had so much fun learning about our product offering, meeting new people, seeing new stores and being in different markets.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?

Don’t just settle for what someone told you about the past. Break the rules and challenge everything.

Q: What do you see as a critical issue facing the industry in the next decade and why?

Labor challenges! Automation will be key in the future at the field level and throughout the packing process.