2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Justin McIntyre

Manager-Wholesale Procurement (Produce)
The Pattison Food Group
Langley, British Columbia

Age: 33
Hometown: Langley, British Columbia
Hobbies: Movies, Painting miniatures, Board games, Building computers, Marvel comics
Family/Community: Married, 2 children
Motto in life: Elevate your team, and they will elevate you.

McIntyre started in the produce industry in 2006 as a produce clerk at a local grocery store chain, where he worked for four years. The knowledge he gained afforded him the ability to accept a new role as a produce lead hand, where he continued at store level for another year before moving into the company’s wholesale division, Associated Grocers. There, he worked in the sales department for 18 months, building an account base of independent grocers and contributing to the growth of overall wholesale sales. He accepted the role of junior buyer and within six months was promoted to buyer. In that role, he was tasked with the duties previously held by the company’s head buyer, including purchasing produce, arranging transport to the warehouse, training new staff, and managing relationships with produce customers. Within four years, he was promoted to buying manager at just 27, and managed a team of five buyers. Two years later, he was again promoted to general manager of produce operations, overseeing the buying and sales teams in both British Columbia and Alberta.

In September 2023, he accepted a position with The Pattison Food Group as manager of procurement-produce wholesale, and manages a team of buyers who procure for Associated Grocers.

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

As a child, I grew up thinking the grocery store clerks were the coolest people in the world. After all, we rely on them every single day. One day, just shy of my 16th birthday, I walked in and talked to the manager at my local store. They had no produce manager to work the store, and they asked if I could work that day, and I was hired on the spot.

Q: What is the one thing in your business you are most passionate about?

The challenge to constantly bring new innovation to the market, whether in lower pricing or better quality to the consumer.

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

Retail programs and marketing. I believe that people are much more willing to buy a product that they have seen in restaurant advertisements. Stores should focus as much attention and decor to a fresh look and steer away from the industrialized look. I believe a farm market look that pushes “fresh” will always lead to more produce sales.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?

Changes in the industry have been widespread. We have seen floods, droughts, disease, all which have resulted in new legislation that has made the industry more challenging, and more accountable. Traceability and food safety has become paramount, and these changes, although positive, have not been without added challenge to us all. We, as an industry, must continue to rise to these challenges, and we must find ways to mitigate the costs for the end consumer.

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

Whether through my own efforts, or my teams, I have been able to advance my career at a rapid pace. I believe I have always led with my teams at the forefront, and I try to celebrate and elevate them whenever possible. Through this, together we work to keep the cost to the consumer as low as possible, while elevating the quality that we deliver on a regular basis. Any time a team member sees success, those are my most proud moments.