Category: Featured Personality

Featured Personality – Ryan Sylvia

More often than not, our outside employees tend to be behind the scenes, only making appearances when you drive along Long Hill Road and see them pruning. These staff members are the bread and butter to keep this business afloat! Longevity with these positions is a huge bonus, which brings us to a more recent young hire, 32 year old Ryan Sylvia!

Ryan came to Bishop’s in June of 2017, where he started, and continues to be, our Orchard Foreman. He grew up in Uncasville, CT and went to North Western Connecticut Community College. His story is quite unique in that he didn’t always work in the field he now does. Everything changed for him after he met his wife Blair in 2007. After dating and becoming engaged, his wife accepted a position in 2013 at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. The two of them picked up and moved, with Ryan starting a job at New England Village, a day program for adults with intellectual disabilities. You might ask where this story is going, but we promise… it will all tie together!

New England Village leases an 8 acre organic vegetable farm where its residents can work and enjoy aspects of a farm life. Ryan had started working on the farm with his crew, when he met what he calls his two mentors whom took him under their wing. “Beth and Janina showed me the basics of farming and more importantly, why we do things,” says Ryan. “There is a lot more to farming than just putting seeds into the ground, and watching them grow.” He had never thought that it would take him entering his late twenties, for him to realize his desire to be a farmer. “When you see someone take a bit of something you worked hard on, there is no greater love and satisfaction!”

Ryan and Blair got married and a few years later realized they wanted to move back to CT to be close to family. Bishop’s Orchards was his first job back in CT… and he hopes for it to be his last! “I feel like I fit in well at Bishop’s because family is such an important focus here.” Ryan’s responsibilities here change with the season. Winter through the end of March is our off season and when we are able to catch up and calm down a bit before peak season. “During this time we are pruning small fruits and apples. This involves trimming down trees so they do not overproduce,” says Ryan. “By creating space you are allowing more light to come in and hit the fruit in its best way.” Also during winter Ryan and other outside staff will attend conferences on beneficial topics for the upcoming season.

April will begin peak season here for our farmers, lasting through the end of October with them working six days a week, Monday through Saturday.  During this time Ryan assists in getting crews out to their locations and integrating an infrastructure for farm irrigation and Integrated Pest Management. “We will go out and scout crops to see what pests are affecting or could affect crops. After this we determine a course of action. These days are long and hard but I love farming and when you love your job, it doesn’t feel like a job anymore!”  

A typical New Englander, Ryan loves all sports especially his New England Patriots! His simple pleasures in life are really all he needs. Time spent with his nieces and soon to be nephew, craft beer and Boston sports… there isn’t much more than he could ever need!

FEATURED PERSONALITY – Alicia Metzler

Bishop’s history is who we are and why we are the way we are. We are a family business… strong emphasis on family. We depend strongly on the support of our staff, creating our work family. There is no one else who exemplifies this behavior more than our Front End Team Supervisor. To many of our customers she is known as “the lovely, helpful lady who is behind the customer service desk,” but to us, she is Alicia.

From Killingworth, CT, Alicia left high school and started to work at Cheeseboro Ponds in 1975, the same year she met her husband Al. Al was a Guilford native who fell hard and fell fast! Two years later in 1977 the two married and continued working for Pond’s, transferring to the research and development part of Ponds in Trumbull. Alicia stayed at Pond’s through her first pregnancy with eldest son Jamie in 1981. It wasn’t until after her she had her second son, Kyle, in 1983 when she decided to be a stay at home mom. During this time she had her daughter Kellyn in 1986 and in 1994 when she entered first grade, Alicia came to work for Bishop’s as a part time cashier.

Now going into her 25th anniversary working at Bishop’s, Alicia Metzler is a jack of all trades. Over the years she has moved up in positions from Head Cashier to Assistant Store Manager. She is the go-to employee for all things customer service! From taking care of opening and closing the store, to special orders and fruit baskets, to registering members for our Rewards Program… she does it all! Labeled the “Fruit Basket Lady,” her arrangements for corporate and holiday gift giving are some of the best on the shoreline. Her presence at the Farm Market is widely known due to her dedication over the years. “As someone who is not typically outgoing, I have formed a closeness with the Bishop’s family and the customers. This business and my position here created my voice and confidence,” says Alicia. “Over the years I have developed a rapport within the community and this has become my comfort zone.”

Bishop’s Orchards has and will always carry a special place in Alicia’s heart. Her whole family has worked at the farm market in some capacity or another. “My kids grew up with the 6th generation Bishops’ kids and they have become more than just my work family. Over my 25 years here, the Bishop’s have been very good to me, and myself to them. They are part of my family’s upbringing”

When she is not behind the Customer Service desk, Alicia LOVES to spend time with her family! She has two grandkids, Alaric and Craig, who have just moved to Guilford and are now closer than ever! Her husband is retired so when she takes time off, they like to travel to see their daughter Kellyn who lived in Vermont and now resides in Florida! “We live a simple and quiet life, with everything we could ever need and more! After 42 years of marriage, I say we are doing very well!”

FEATURED PERSONALITY – PAUL GENOVESE

Technology can have a mind of its own and it tends to stir the pot at the most inconvenient time!! Enhancing customers’ experience in the Farm Market, transactions at Pick Your Own, online pie orders… you name it! Most of the time these variables cannot be controlled, but we do stand a chance thanks to our IT guru, Paul!! Sometimes it can just be his mere presence standing over your computer. More often than not, it is his experience, patience and problem solving ways that help us 24/7 at Bishop’s Orchards!

Paul started working at Bishop’s Orchards in 2015 with over 20 years of experience as an IT Professional. Previous to Bishop’s, he founded JP-JetNet (later merging to ITG), a computer networking support company. With a degree in computer science from Quinnipiac University, Paul has always continued his education by researching and reviewing the latest technology. Throughout the year, he continues to enroll in programs and conferences to stay current and aid in his self-taught ways.

At Bishop’s his primary focus is growing the IT infrastructure, aiming to provide employees with as many IT services deemed necessary for security and fluidity. “The business is constantly evolving and it is my goal to continue to support the visions of Bishop’s management, and forecasting trends,” says Paul Genovese. “This pertains to all aspects of the business, from Pick Your Own to farm market transactions. One of the biggest priorities was to provide a reliable point of sale environment to a remote locations like our Pick Your Own fields.” Outside of work Paul enjoys brew hopping and heading up to Vermont to see his son for a many ski runs down the mountains.

FEATURED PERSONALITY – DANA HOWD

If you have ever called Bishop’s to place an order or ask when Pick Your Own is open, chances are you have had this conversation with our Administrative Assistant, Dana Howd!! Dana is the right hand to all our upstairs management staff, knowing the ins and outs of the entire company. If you have a question, she knows the answer! Her spunk and fiesty demeanor carries through the entire building. It is safe to say that the administration would be lost without this key player!

Dana started working for the business in 2005 as a front end cashier while she was in high school. During her 13 plus years here she has moved positions from Front End Supervisor, to Retail Buyers Assistant, to Accounts Payable and now Administrative Assistant. Her most important role/position came in June of 2017, when her husband Jason and she became first time parents to a beautiful baby girl, Harlow!!

“My greatest accomplishment will always be becoming a mom! It’s the best thing that I’ll ever do” says Dana. “The Bishop’s family is so understanding of time being spent with family. Coming back from maternity leave and adjusting to working full time while being a mother was tough, but the family has always allowed for family to come first!”

Dana has experienced quite the milestones personally and professionally. Being at Bishop’s for over a decade, she has seen the business go through 2 renovations, the addition of a winery, CSA Program and the business’s 140th anniversary! “The most exciting transitions that I have seen happen through my years here has been the office interior” says Dana. “As the company grows, so does our employees. We have had to increase our office space quite a few times now, allowing for new employees to have desk space. It is a huge and detailed process, but the change is exciting and shows just how far we have come!” Additional growth that she hopes to see is a seperate building for the Winery and its events. “The Winery was a huge incorporation to the business and now with the level that it has reached, it deserves its own luxuries.”

Outside of work, Dana enjoys spending time with her family and animals. During the summer when she isn’t helping Pick Your Own get by, she can be found in the waters of Stony Creek, cruising the sound on her Whaler.

 

FEATURED PERSONALITY – Bobbi Hallaway

As we enter “Pie” season, we cannot think of anyone better to introduce than Bobbi!! She not only runs our entire Bakery & Kitchen Department but also a Guilford native and business owner! Growing up on the northern side of Guilford, she was part of Guilford High School Class of 1988. After her graduation, she enrolled at Southern Connecticut State University where she studied Business Administration & Management. Immediately after receiving her degree, she married her high school sweetheart Christian in 1992! That following January they had their first son Christian!

For years, she worked off and on managing her father’s local business. During this time she had their second son, Brandon, in 1996. Bobbi and her husband worked a lot to provide for their family, but always made commute and convenience a huge factor in their full-time jobs. They always made time for their kids’ activities, classroom involvement and time to travel. In 2004 Bobbi and Chris had their youngest, Linnea. During their kids’ childhood, she worked for ten years as the Area Manager for a local business. The family of four loved spending so much time with each other, forming a special bond within their extra curricular activity… Martial Arts/Tae Kwon Do/Hapkido.

Bobbi’s husband had always had a background in Martial arts from Guilford educator, John Cuddy. Everyone quickly became involved, leading Chris to take the leap and start their family business, Evolution Martial Arts in Guilford. From 2001-2018 the business continued to grow, opening another location/school in Durham in 2006. During this time, Bobbi became a second degree black belt and had their daughter Linnea in 2004. Shortly after Linnea was born, Bobbi joined Bishop’s Orchards as the Assistant Bakery Manager, working for 5th generation Bishop, Diane Van der Grinten. “Born and raised in Guilford, raising our family here and working for my family’s business and eventually owning my own, instills a  whole new meaning to local pride. It was for this reason that I wanted to work for another local family business,” says Bobbi.

While working with Diane, Bobbi was thrown into everything from fundraisers and seasonal orders, to baked goods and prepared foods. Over the years, these departments grew tremendously to include a whole line of grab n’ go prepared foods, sandwiches, salads, parfaits and more! In 2011, Bobbi was promoted to the Food Production Manager, running the entire Bakery & Kitchen department. So much has happened since she first started leading the department. Bishop’s now has a full ice cream line, carrying plenty of fun flavors, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches. Grab n’ go meals have grown to now carry pre-cut fruit, stuffed breads, crockpot and grill meals and more.

Bobbi credits her staff for all the department’s growth and accomplishments! “I try to treat my staff as if they are extended family, hosting gatherings outside of work such as movie nights, cookouts and holidays parties! Without these individuals the department would not be as successful as it is. It is important for me to show them my appreciation at work and outside of work.” The creativity that stems from our Bakery & Kitchen is never ending, with new ideas and additions always coming out! Always keep checking back in for new recipes, fun ice cream flavors, delicious pastries, party platters and more!

FEATURED PERSONALITY – Jeremy Waldman

In 1998 Jeremy Waldman walked through Bishop’s Orchards’ doors at the age of 21. Previously he was working at Frank’s Nursery and Crafts in Branford, where he worked for Randy Perham, our current Grocery Team Manager. His youthful energy and charisma made him stand out and he quickly became part of the team. Who would have thought that Randy would be the one to hire Jeremy at both Frank’s Nursery and Bishop’s Orchards, and now having worked 20+ years together?! Over time Jeremy worked his way up within the Bishop’s rank. Being a utility player worked in his favor, landing him positions as the Assistant Produce Manager, Fresh Grocery Manager, Front End Supervisor and Assistant Store Manager. Jeremy’s current position is Market Team Manager, a title he has now held for 8+ years.

As the Market Team Manager, Jeremy is responsible for maintaining most of our staff. From hiring and training new employees, to keeping the current employees happy and safe, he is the Au Pair! “The one part of my job that I get a fair amount of joy out of is bringing in the new employees and really preparing them, I guess you could say, for the rest of their lives. Moreover, having somebody that you can see has some deficiencies, whether it be, their shy or their work habits aren’t great, being able to transform those employees in to active, productive team members, for me, that is the most important part of my job.”   

Jeremy acknowledges the fall season as the time of year when the most attention and accommodation is needed. There is a huge increase in foot traffic, which means there is a need for more employment than usual. The process of hiring new employees for the fall, begins in early August. Swamped with resumes and interviews, Jeremy’s biggest challenge that he faces is making sure to monitor the staff on a day to day basis, evaluating their work while also providing the affirmation to keep them happy and safe. There is nothing he loves more than finding employees that are looking to sink their roots into the company, furthering their growth both professionally and personally. “The business has already grown immensely since we started in 1871, but there is still plenty of room left to grown,” says Jeremy. “The potential to do other things is incredible, it just comes down to facilitating those means.”

Jeremy, alongside additional management staff, look forward to one day possibly incorporating a deli, outside ice cream stand or another expansion on the farm market. “There are so many things we do well and that we can continue to expound on. The team and support the company has right now, is making a huge difference and we are all excited to see the direction we are headed.”

FEATURED PERSONALITY – RANDY PERHAM

Flowers, cheese, meats… you name it!!! A man of many traits, Randy Perham, the Grocery Team Manager at Bishop’s Orchards, manages the entire grocery department at the Farm Market! Coming to Bishop’s with a background is in Biochemistry from Cornell University, Randy has now been working in purchasing for 30 years, 10 with other various companies and 20+ at Bishop’s. Since his employment in 1998, he has had the pleasure of watching Bishop’s grow into what it is today!

On a day to day basis, Randy primarily deals with outside vendors, completing weekly orders for departments that include grocery, frozen foods, meat, cheese and floral department. One of Randy’s most important responsibility is studying food trends and bringing new items into the Farm Market. “As the company continues to grow, so does our product selection. With increased competition hitting closer to home now, it is mandatory for us to adapt and keep up with the ever so changing market. New items might only last a year because their product cycle is a lot faster. Items don’t have the same 5-10 year life span like they used to.”

In 2017 Randy introduced approximately 1,000 new products and is averaging roughly 80 items per month for 2018. When making the decision of what to bring in, he looks for the best quality items that are made with clean, all natural ingredients, while also having competitive pricing. There is a huge demand for locally grown items along the shoreline, so Randy tries to purchase from local businesses as often as possible. Another factor for bringing in new items is their uniqueness. “Two weeks ago we were eating goat cheese from Australia with green weaver ants! Where else can you find this rarity other than at Bishop’s?” Despite his busy schedule, Randy loves finding time to be on the retail floor, interacting with customers. “When I’m on the floor I enjoy talking with the customers and explaining to them the different foods and ingredients that Bishop’s has to offer. I enjoy helping customers find the perfect ingredients for that special family dinner.”

Randy’s long standing employment at Bishop’s Orchards comes with fond memories and standouts! One of his favorites… watching the people that he hired grow up and succeed at what they are doing. Whether it be at Bishop’s or somewhere else, it doesn’t matter, he enjoys watching them move up in the world. Two individuals stand out to him, Dana Howd our Administrative Assistant and Jeremy Waldman our Market Team Manager. These two employees he hired when they were 16, and has had the pleasure of watching them grow into their current positions!

Featured Personality – Russ Geary

Who isn’t a sucker for love stories?!! At Bishop’s we don’t prohibit dating amongst co-workers because we are a family run business. You never know when cupid might strike you! Yes, it maybe just be a bee sting in the orchard, but sometimes employees find love in the simplest of environments! Let us tell you about a love story from back in the day at Bishop’s Orchards. It all started in 1984…

As a young college student, he was doing what most kids his age were doing that summer, looking for a summer job! Between his kind heart and charm, he managed to land a position as a stock clerk for that summer. At first, Russ didn’t think he would be here long, but low and behold a beautiful young lady came walking in! Lisa was her name and boy was Russ smitten! Employee relationships have never been prohibited at Bishop’s, being a family owned business and all. So after 4 years of being at Bishop’s Orchards, Russ began dating Lisa! Hands down this has been his proudest moment at Bishop’s, now having been married to Lisa for ## years!! It all started with two employees in love and now many many years later, they are both STILL valued employees. They have two beautiful children, Rusty a certified accountant and Linnea a college student studying Pathology at UCONN.

Falling for Lisa wasn’t the only love Russ found. He fell in love with our family company, and seeing its growth throughout the years. Since then, Russ has been the Produce Team Manager here at Bishop’s, now going on 30 years! Russ enjoys engaging with the customers when he is on the floor. “One of the best parts of my job is interacting with the customers on the floor,” says Russ. “I sometimes see familiar faces that have been shopping at Bishop’s since I first started in 1984! Engaging with them makes me feel like our department is holding up to our company’s mission statement and making the customer’s happiness our number one priority.”

Russ’ day to day responsibilities are divided up into two sections; purchased produce and Bishop’s own produce. January through May is mainly focused on outsourced purchased produce. Then, once June hits, Bishop’s own produce, as well as other local farms’ produce, starts coming in. “This starts to be a very exciting time on the farm,” says Russ. “Some things you will see are berries and squash from our own farm field, as well as tomatoes, lettuce, corn and more from local farms like Anderson Farm, March Farms, and Cecarelli Farms.”

Multiple times a week, Russ is responsible for researching prices, placing all orders and checking inventory upon arrival in the Produce Department (bulk items included). “To help ensure our customers are getting the best and most fresh produce, we do an extensive quality control check. We have exceptional staff who goes through every pea pod, green bean, brussels sprouts… you name it! There is no “bad egg” to be found when you have this hands-on technique.” Russ expresses the importance of this process so the customers are getting the most for their money, with the quality they deserve.

As the business continues to grow, Russ hopes to see the Produce Department expand in many different ways. He sees the potential for our farm to increase available land made for produce that we currently grow. “At times some of our produce, such as our strawberries and blueberries, is limited during the early parts of their season. We then have to resort to purchasing from other farms to keep up with demand. It would be great to find more space for growing more, therefore increasing our on-hand supply for customers.”

FEATURED PERSONALITY: ERICA DENUZZO

Erica DeNuzzo has been a fundamental addition to the team and marketing department here at Bishop’s Orchards. Coming from a Graphic Design company 5 years ago, Erica has taken on a role as the Marketing Coordinator. She assists in handling aspects of marketing and public relations including the development and implementation of  marketing campaigns, tracking analytics, planning meetings and media purchases, budgeting, preparing reports, knowledge of social media platforms, creating visual & verbal content, and organizing the company’s promotional outreach efforts. Her creative background has also made her the in-house graphic designer and event coordinator.

“I know my strong suites are my organization, communication and ability to multitask. Being a Type A personality has definitely been helpful in my professional life with pushing deadlines and strategically planning,” says Erica. “There is however a huge creative side to me. I try to create a healthy balance of building structure while also being able to step outside the lines and push the boundaries. The best part of my job is visualizing an idea and seeing it run through to execution.

Since joining the business, Erica has become more aware of the constant changes within the food industry. Bishop’s Orchards and the food industry is constantly keeping the marketing team on their toes. “Demands, trends and demographics are constantly changing, keeping the marketing team on our toes. It is up to us to determine how to approach each segment effectively,” explains Erica. On top of market segmentation changes, the marketing department is also tasked with staying up-to-date with media outlets and new resources for advertising. In the past year, Erica has been a part of the incorporation of Digital Advertising. Digital is only one aspect of Bishop’s advertising, but handled so differently than other mediums. “It was an expensive addition, but one needed to keep our brand visible, in the eyes of those searching for us.”

This time of year for the Marketing Department is filled with preparation for the Pick-Your-Own season, booking small scale events, staying on top of changing content for advertisers, and planning for the 2018 Shoreline Wine Festival on August 11th & 12th. “The Shoreline Wine Festival is a great event! Attendees can enjoy CT Wines from all over the state as well as live music, wide stream food trucks, local artisans and so much more! A lot of time, planning and organization goes into this event and it shows in how well it runs and both customers and vendors enjoyment.”  

As for future growth for Bishop’s Orchards, Erica hopes to see the addition of more events, specifically becoming a venue in the wedding industry. “Bishop’s would be a beautiful and unique location to add to wedding venues on the shoreline. People are always getting married so jumping into this industry would definitely be a smart investment on our part, as well as an enjoyable avenue to explore.”

FEATURED PERSONALITY: Carly Pastore

Carly Pastore is one of the most recent members of the Bishop’s Orchards team. Coming to us with a background in sales and marketing for several different natural food brands, Carly’s experience made her a great fit for the team and as our Retail Marketing Specialist position here at Bishop’s.

Carly does anything from setting up samples for customers to taste, watching and studying different food categories and trends, restocking any displays as needed, to conversing with any customer who wants to chat. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be downstairs interacting with customers while also contributing to plans on marketing strategy, product acquisition, category management and our Loyalty Rewards Program,” said Carly.

Not having experienced our busy season in the fall yet, Carly is anxious but excited to learn where exactly everyone is traveling from. “My goals are to bring new and innovative methods to the table, increasing product awareness and product use, and to build our Loyalty Rewards Program so customers can take advantage of what we have to offer and reap benefits by doing so.” That includes people that are traveling from right down the road, to customers that are coming from out of state.

In the meantime, we recently added a new loose bulk set to our bulk foods department. Carly explains, “there are four new items that include: Rolled Oats, Quick Oats, Brown Basmati Rice and Quinoa. They’re all USDA organic items at very competitive prices. We want to give our loyal customers another reason to choose us over our neighboring large chain grocery stores.”

As for what’s to come, you can expect to see some new looks and displays coming to Bishop’s that will be filled with new items. This is so we can offer customers a more broad selection of grocery staples and specialty products, tailored specifically to serve all that populate the community.

Carly’s favorite part about working at Bishop’s in the people. “It’s a community of people who have been loyal to the company for decades which makes it a very desirable place to work and grow. It seems like everyone gets an opportunity to spend time outside at some point during the day, or during the year which is great for overall wellness and understanding of what we are…a Farm Market.”