2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Wes Finch

Vice President of Produce Operations
New York, NY

Age: 39
Hometown: Houston, TX
Hobbies: Coaching son’s baseball teams, Honing novice BBQ skills, Hunting, Fishing
Family/Community: Married, 2 children, Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, Wilchester Men’s Club charity
Motto in life: “People just want to be taken care of.” — George Finch (his father)

Finch has become a go-to resource in the food industry due to his vast experience in sales, customer service, and operations in the fresh produce distribution world. He grew up sweeping docks and loading trucks for Third Coast Produce in Houston, TX, which he watched his father build from the ground up. He worked his way up in sales while he was studying agricultural economics at Texas A&M University, and, upon graduation, moved to the buying office with the intention of one day sitting at his father’s desk running the company. However, Finch was thrown a curveball, and his family had to exit the business. So, in 2012, he took a position as director of purchasing for Renaissance Food Group’s Houston division. Then, in 2014, he moved on to Brothers Produce of Houston, where he eventually became vice president of sales. During his tenure at Brothers Produce, the company saw rapid growth, as he helped them win key DOD and school business. Brothers became one of the biggest independent produce distributors in the country.

In 2022, he took a position of vice president of produce operations at Pepper, working from Houston, and bringing technology to the produce business. He currently leads Pepper’s go-to-market strategy, bringing modern e-commerce solutions to independent produce distributors. He is credited for intertwining his knowledge of produce with the technological needs of distributors, and leads sales teams to bridge technological gaps. He has also served as a Career Pathways mentor for undergrad students at the IFPA Global Produce & Floral Show.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?

You cannot predict what path your career will take. Focus on learning and networking, instead of the linear path to promotion and, if you do that, the promotion and opportunities will come.

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

Using technology to help solve problems for produce distributors.

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

Growers are doing a great job coming up with creative new blends and packaging to keep folks excited about produce, but we have a communication gap between the grower/shipper and the end consumer, especially in foodservice. The latest offerings in e-commerce technology allow us to bridge that gap and inform chefs and kitchen managers more effectively about these offerings.

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

After I came to Pepper, the friends I had made throughout my career were the first early adopters to put their faith in the e-commerce product. For them to put their trust in me, and us delivering on that trust is what I’m most proud of so far.

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

Never burn a contact, and network as much as you can. Contacts that I made years ago at different jobs have become valuable later on in my career in ways I could not have imagined.

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

I see a lot of young, talented professionals in the industry leaving due to burnout and outside opportunities that seem less stressful. Improving technology will allow us to keep more of the best and brightest.