Founded in 2007 by the Agresti family, the family-owned and –operated enterprise grows, packs and ships a wide range of root vegetables to customers throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom and Europe from its headquarters in Holland Landing, Ontario.
“My father has been in the business for over 40 years, and I’ve been in it for 20,” says Anthony Agresti, president of ATV Farms.
One of Canada’s largest vegetable growers, packers, shippers and exporters, ATV Farms specializes in the production of carrots, onions, red and green cabbage, beets, parsnips and turnips.
ATV Farms employs some 50 people, though the ranks swell to as much as 70 during the busy harvest season. The company operates two main farms in Ontario — each roughly 500 acres — as well as a number of joint ventures in the U.S. and across Canada.
Selling on both a wholesale and retail business, ATV Farms specializes in the production of onion and carrots. By developing a niche in these two specific crops, ATV Farms has been able to differentiate itself in the market and build a reputation based on quality and service.
“There really isn’t another carrot and onion packer in the area that does what we do. We’ll come in seven days a week, weekends and holidays; whatever the customer needs, we’ll deliver,” says Agresti.
Increased pressure from global competition
In recent years, ATV has seen the produce market become increasingly globalized. With produce from newly-exporting countries flooding traditional markets, companies like ATV Farms have had to work harder than ever to maintain precious market share.
“There is a lot of pressure from the worldwide market, especially from growers in nontraditional markets like China. There’s a big question mark when it comes to food safety, but it’s cheap,” says Agresti. “We continue to count on local support to keep us in competition.”
Agresti says there has also been an increased emphasis on introducing new, improved varieties of popular root vegetables to the market. ATV Farms has done trials on a number of new growing methods and varieties such as candy-striped and golden beets, but is careful to never stray too far from its core business. “We’re really focusing on the carrot and onion market because that’s our bread and butter,” Agresti says.
ATV Farms recently added a 20,000-square-foot climate-controlled cold-storage facility. Designed mainly to house carrots, beets and parsnips, the new facility will allow the company to store produce for longer, ensuring a fresher product regardless of the season.
The company’s full slate of agricultural offerings includes potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, endive, escarole, rutabagas, turnips, radish, peppers, cucumbers and more.
The family-owned nature of the industry has been changing lately as established growers age-out and can’t find a family member interested in taking over the business.
This isn’t the case at ATV Farms, where Agresti’s brother and father are both involved in the family business. As president of ATV Farms, Agresti focuses on vegetable production, sales, logistics and marketing while his brother Travis handles wholesale operations. The brothers are joined by industry veteran Viv Agresti, who has owned and managed various produce concerns throughout his extensive career.
The involvement of various member of the Agresti family has been vital to the operation’s continued success, and has allowed ATV Farms to flourish where others in the local market have failed. As the company continues to grow, it’s looking to aggressively expand on both the growing and processing side of things.
As a business that got its start during some of the leanest economic times on record, ATV Farms knows how to survive a down period in the market. Agresti credits this in part to the simple, affordable nature of their products, which don’t suffer the same fate as more luxury items during a recession.
“We’re growing products in their simplest form. So many people are going to the specialty versions of products like ready to eat processed commodities such as baby carrots, which end up costing more to produce and also to buy, but when the economy is down, people are still going to buy food and buy it in the basic form that it comes in,” he says. “Continuing to grow simple, high quality products like carrots and onions allow us to weather the economic ups and downs.”
While there are a number of challenges facing the industry, a focus on its core business of carrots and onions, along with strong family leadership, will ensure continued success at ATV Farms.