2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Lou Getzelman Jr.

Vice President
Canyon Sales Company
Bronx, NY

Age: 39
Hometown: North Massapequa, NY
Hobbies: Fitness, Golf, Coaching his kids
Family/Community: Married, 2 children, St. Luke’s Catholic Church
Motto in life: Win or Learn.

Getzelman was raised around produce, given his father, Louis Getzelman Sr., is a 45-year veteran of the industry. After graduating from Lehigh University, he spent about 12 years in the financial sector. At the same time, he also joined two friends to open two F45 Training franchises in Connecticut. Both studios were successful, and the Stamford location rose to a top 10 revenue-producing studio in the world. In 2019, his father was given the opportunity to buy Canyon Sales Company and asked Getzelman to join him. Though he had worked on the New York terminal market a few winters and summers while growing up, he had a significant learning curve to confront. Taking on the role of new business development at Canyon Sales, he was responsible for meeting and connecting with potential new customers and letting them know about Canyon Sales’ deals and produce offerings. His natural ability to develop relationships, honed during his entire career, fit well with this new direction.

After the company’s first shipping season, COVID-19 happened, and Getzelman was faced with many unique challenges in his first year at Canyon. He rose to the challenges and over the past four years has doubled the company’s sales. He has also expanded the company’s product line from offering mainly just GPOD Idaho potatoes to now offering a 52-week colored potato program and an extensive onion offering year-round from nearly every growing region. He is tasked with the responsibility of making sure the company’s sales move seamlessly through the purchase and delivery process.

During his time at Canyon Sales, he has shown innate ability to promote and negotiate fresh produce sales in potatoes and onions. He has earned the respect of shippers and receivers all around the country and helped grow the company into the success it is today. In 2023, he was selected to participate in the Eastern Produce Leadership Program.

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

I began working in the produce industry because of my dad. He’s been working on the New York terminal market for over 45 years, building numerous potato and onion departments. When he had the opportunity to buy his own company, it was an opportunity to do something together. I had brokered commodities basically my entire career and I felt confident that my skill set would transition smoothly. Having that confidence and the opportunity to work with my dad was very attractive.

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

I am most passionate about service. I want my growers, shippers and customers to all walk away from the sale feeling that Canyon Sales did a great job for them, that we communicated at a high level, and we’re buying/selling great product at a fair price.

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

I think the best way to increase fresh produce consumption is to expose young kids to fresh produce early in their lives. Another way this can be achieved is to teach them about the versatility of produce in cooking and snacking and how many ways it can be consumed. My kids love to snack, and they love to play in the kitchen. We’re always testing new recipes with some of their favorite items. At the point-of-sale, I find it very appealing when there are cooking demonstrations in-store featuring produce and how it’s being used.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?

Within the terminal market, I’ve seen a huge emphasis on quality. The terminal market used to be a place where not everything had to be perfect quality. Within the last five years, there are fewer customers who want something off grade and more customers placing an emphasis on very high quality.

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

Meet and talk to as many people as possible. The produce industry is very much relationship-based. Just be out there, be open to meeting new people, and discuss ways you can help each other. Always think about how you help someone. Do right by the people you meet — when you do the right inputs, you usually get the right outputs.

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

Increased production costs pose a significant challenge for the produce industry in the coming decade. Rising expenses for inputs, such as fertilizers, labor and machinery, strain profit margins and put farms out of business. Market volatility and regulatory compliance further exacerbate financial pressures for farmers, and there is far too much of that right now. Addressing these cost burdens will be crucial for sustaining profitability for American farms and ensuring the long-term viability of the industry. The last thing we want to do as a nation is to become dependent on others for our food.