Dan is retiring!

Dan Schiffhauer of Ocean Spray is retiring, and the New Jersey cranberry community is certainly going to miss him!

Dan was here as the contact for the growers for Ocean Spray and did whatever was needed to assist us with the crop. When he first came on board he was the point man for getting every Ocean Spray grower to use Integrated Pest Management and helped develop that program for all of us. He was available to deal with any horticultural issue, whether it was fertilizer, disease, insects, water management . . . if it had to do with cranberries, he was there as a consultant. His hard work and dedication made a tremendous difference in how we manage our crops.

Thierry Besançon, Rutgers University:

Dan is the guy here at the station who took a lot of his time to teach me about cranberry, not only the plant, but also the pests, the weeds, and all the complexity of cranberry management. He’s a very enthusiastic pedagogue, a mine of knowledge, and a great supporter of our Weed Science Research program! I’m glad that he’ll still be around because I still have plenty of questions on cranberry for him!

Steve Lee IV, Lee Brothers:

Dan is and will always be part of our family and we are eternally grateful for his tireless efforts in contributing to our success. We are thankful and appreciative of Laura, Sam and Maura for their personal family sacrifices made in support of Dan’s work over 29-plus years.

Peter Oudemans, Rutgers University:

Dan Schiffhauer is one of the most energetically creative people working in cranberries today . . . I can’t believe he thinks it is OK to retire!

Jeremy Fenstermaker, Pine Island Cranberry:

I am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know him professionally and personally. He was always available when needed and spoke from experience when called upon. He always had the growers best interest in mind. Now I hope he enjoys his retirement and shares where he is catching the big fish!

Shawn Cutts, ACGA President:

It is hard to overstate how much we will all miss Dan as he retires. Through his hard work, expertise, and willingness to attack any problem, he has been a tremendous resource in helping us growers to be our best. His friendship has been a blessing to everyone in the NJ cranberry community. We wish him all the best in retirement!

Bill Haines, Pine Island Cranberry:

Dan’s smart, he’s funny, and he always worked hard for the growers. The two biggest compliments I can pay Dan are that he was always there when you needed him, and in his 30-plus years here, he made a difference.

Bon voyage, Rick!

After forty-two years at Pine Island Cranberry, Rick Zapata is taking a well-earned retirement!

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During his time here, Rick has done a little bit of everything, and he’s always done it well. He started out as a seasonal employee but quickly moved up to full-time, and he’s been crucial to our operation ever since. “Rick’s like the utility player of the farm,” says Manager of Operations Matt Giberson. “There’s nothing he can’t do, and he always does a good job with whatever it is. After 42 years on the farm, you just pick up everything.” Ever since Matt came on board, he’s made sure to seek out advice from Rick, as well. “I always make it a point to go to Rick, and the other guys who have been here forever, and ask them how they would go about things, because they’ve done it all . . .and it’s always good to have those guys to back you up!”

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Rick was a long-time picking crew leader and our very first operator trained on the Gates Harrow. He’s always embraced new technology, right down to wearing a GoPro to demonstrate how the new machinery worked.

GoPro Gates Harrow from Pine Island Cranberry on Vimeo.

“I’ve worked with Rick since we were both about 18 or 19 years old,” says CEO Bill Haines. “He’s always been an important member of the Pine Island team: he’s smart, he’s reliable, he’s an excellent operator. He was a key part of the blueberry operation when we were in the blueberry business. He’s a guy you can plug in anywhere and he would get the job done, and we’re going to miss him.”

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Thanks, Rick, for everything you’ve done for us. We’re so glad you were here, and wish you the best for a happy, relaxing retirement!

Retirement

Pine Island bid a fond farewell this week to General Manager Fred Torres, who began his retirement on Tuesday!

We’re all going to miss Fred tremendously. He always gave the job 100%, and never asked anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. “He’s taught me so much since I’ve been here,” says supervisor Matt Giberson. “His work ethic is something else, and he really has the kind of personality that encourages people every single day. I’m going to miss the guy. He worked here for over forty years, he grew up here. After that long, the farm becomes a part of you, and you’re part of the farm as well.”

“There are a lot of ways we’re going to miss Fred,” says Facilities/Equipment manager Louis Cantafio. “He’s going to be a tough act to follow. He did a lot of hands-on work and had a ton of institutional knowledge. He was always up and always working…checking the temperature in the middle of the night, making phone calls, checking the water. He always knew what was going around here, every single minute.”

“It won’t be the same without Fred. Not only have I worked with him every day for forty-four years, but we worked together every summer before that; I’ve known him since we were five years old,” says CEO Bill Haines. “I knew his dad, who worked here for over forty years; I knew all of his brothers and his sisters. We did everything together as kids, and during summers we did everything together as well; we were shed boys, we cleaned ditches. And after we grew up and had real responsibility for the business, he was always my right hand. I could count on him to be there when he needed to be there and get done what needed to get done. I’m going to miss him as a GM, but am going to miss him more as a man.”

Thanks for everything, Fred! Neither the blog nor the buffet line will be the same without you.