Collaboration: that’s what Stella Farms is all about. Since our team began working together more than 14 years ago, our priority has always and continues to be a collaborative, customer-driven program that ensures every partner in the supply chain has their needs exceeded and prosperity secured. We do this by tailoring programs to our customers’ needs—from seed selection, to the number of acres planted, to following rigorous food safety protocols, to packing and shipping—every step in the process is overseen by our team 24/7, guaranteeing that our customers receive superior service and only the finest quality produce.
As a tight-knit, collaborative team, everyone at Stella Farms is dedicated to the success and longevity of our farms and our customers. Every member of the Stella Farms management group has had direct experience in the agricultural sector of the fresh produce industry having been involved in farming throughout their careers. We understand many of the challenges and issues that our growers may face. Whether it’s related to operations, logistics, sales or accounting, everyone at Stella Farms has a common goal—which is to make sure that Stella Farms is a benefit to all our farms and customers.
“We have a very common theme here that permeates through all we do – we look at our overall business plan as a “Marathon and not a Sprint,” with a long-term focus on making everyone sustainably prosperous in the supply chain from our growers to our retail, food service, and processor customers.”
Chris Elsie, Owner
Mike Martori manages Stella’s sales and production teams in order to expand their growing programs and ensure that customers’ expectations are being met. This involves deciding which produce items should be grown and when and how much should be grown to meet customers’ needs. He also communicates with the sales team to let them know how particular crops are doing in order to keep customers informed as to the market and supply for each item.
Mike’s favorite thing about working at Stella Farms is their ambitious team that is dedicated to working together to produce the best results they can. He says their team is full of aggressive, intelligent, and collaborative individuals who challenge each other every day to do a better job and be successful as a group.
An interesting fact about Mike is that his family has been in the farming business for more than 100 years, and he’s among the fifth generation working in the produce business today. When he’s not working, he enjoys mountain biking, backpacking, and traveling.
Ron Sturm is one of Stella Farms' outstanding sales representatives. He spends his days selling Stella Farms products, sourcing and purchasing fruit when needed, and mentoring the younger sales staff with the experience he's gained in the industry for nearly 38 years.
His favorite part about working at Stella Farms is that each day is different and that he gets to work with and teach younger employees - watching them succeed as they gain experience. He also enjoys the fun outings that the team does together and the camaraderie they all share.
When Ron isn't working you can find him golfing, working in the yard, or spending time with his wife Karen of 31 years, who makes him hike!
Chloe Albright is another of Stella Farms’ fantastic sales reps and her concentration is on East Coast customers as she’s based out of Philadelphia, PA. She is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with both new and old customers, making sure they are happy with Stella Farms’ level of service. She works closely with each commodity manager so that she can quickly communicate any news to the buyers she talks with.
Chloe’s favorite part about working at Stella Farms is the feeling that she has a second family. She continuously feels challenged and is always presented with opportunities to learn from the group of top-notch people she works with. She is passionate about all things produce and this group inspires her to do her best every day.
Outside of work, Chloe can often be found hanging out with her husband and son or any of her friends that live in Philadelphia! She enjoys cooking as well as trying new restaurants in her city. She recently helped to organize a book club where once a month she meets at a new restaurant with 12 other girls to discuss the previous month’s read!
Lou Kertesz is part of Stella’s sales team, and he works with customers and growers in order to strengthen Stella’s sales team into other commodities. He brings generations of knowledge in the produce industry to his work at Stella, having grown up in the industry as a child of multi-generational produce men.
His favorite part about the team at Stella is the dynamics of the people he works with. He is passionate about what he does and food in general, and he truly wants Stella to be the best.
Outside of work, he enjoys cooking, tasting different foods and participating in competitive activities. His Hungarian background inspires him to travel and taste different foods in the world, and he enjoys bringing his competitive spirit to his work by constantly striving to be the best.
Fran Torigian is in charge of new business development, including sales, grower recruitment, and new customer programs. He works closely with his European counter part, Peter White, to develop relationships with growers and customers in Europe as well.
His favorite part about working at Stella Farms is the vision within the company—the idea that they can get it done and that they are open-minded, always exploring new products and venues for the company to move into. He also appreciates how the company is on track for vertical integration in everything they do and the attention to detail they focus on when bringing a product to the marketplace.
Outside of work, Fran enjoys doing anything adventurous—from cycling throughout the U.S. and Europe, to backpacking in Spain!
Wayne was born and raise in Chicago, IL – still residing in the city to this day. Wayne has worked in the produce industry for 42 years with the majority of that time focused specifically on watermelons. Wayne is part of Stella Farms sales team, as he works with various growers throughout the country to help meet Stella Farms' customers' needs.
In his spare time, Wayne enjoys hanging out with his family, which includes 2 daughters and 3 grandkids, as well as watching the White Sox beat the Cubs.
Austin Mackey is one of Stella Farms' account managers, and he handles taking and creating orders, calling customers with updates, and connecting with potential new customers.
He says the best thing about working at Stella Farms is the team itself and the unique diversity each of them brings to the work environment that makes working together so much fun.
When Austin isn't at work, you can find him golfing or playing with his Australian Cattle Dog, Boomer.
Peter White is Stella’s director of European operations, and he works at their office in Budapest overseeing their expansion into the European market. His role includes pioneering and solidifying short and long term relationships with European customers, bringing existing items from Central and South America to their markets, and adding new items to the Stella portfolio as opportunities are presented. He spends his days developing new business, setting up operations, and pursuing new business for Stella. With more than 25 years in the produce industry, he has extensive experience in fresh, canned, and frozen foods, and he knows how to get the right people the right product with no surprises!
Peter joined the team at Stella because of the exceptional people who are a part of it. He appreciates their integrity, focus, and unparalleled work ethic that produce a strong synergy and chemistry within the company.
Outside of work, Peter loves sports, especially scuba diving and cycling. Throughout his life he’s traveled to more than 65 countries, and he speaks four languages!
Shawn Avera is Stella’s Director of Operations for the watermelon program, and he serves as the company’s eyes and ears on the farm level. He works on putting together all contracts and sourcing farms in each growing location on the East Coast, Mexico, and Arizona. Additionally, he sets deal parameters for farms, helps with fertility and fungicide programs, labor, and farm materials. He works hand in hand with Mike Martori, implementing his sales program with the farms that will grow the produce.
Shawn’s favorite thing about working at Stella Farms is the fantastic work culture—that it’s a big company in size but small in the sense of relationships—that everyone is like family. He also appreciates their transparency with growers and that everyone at Stella has a farming background and therefore shares their vision, riding the ups and downs with the farmers and changing and adapting with them.
Outside of work, Shawn enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Jade, and their six kids. He is an avid outdoorsman, and his family enjoys spending time hiking, camping, fishing, and doing anything the outdoors offers!
Clifton Harris is in charge of Stella Farm's food safety program and plays an integral part in our quality control team. He travels from farm to farm checking on crop progress as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure that all food safety steps are followed.
In his spare time, Clifton enjoys hunting and hiking in the outdoors.
Jake Erickson’s role at Stella Farms includes coordinating pineapple operations, expanding their family of farmers domestically and internationally, food safety operations, and helping with whatever projects and issues may arise throughout the course of a day. His philosophy is to be flexible, stay positive, and work hard.
His favorite thing about working at Stella Farms is that the team is a true work family.
Marvin List is instrumental in managing Stella Farms’ pineapple program. He is responsible for overseeing relations with existing pineapple growers and potential suppliers. He also identifies new products and growers who meet criteria for Stella Farms’ diversification strategy.
Based out of Miami, Marvin’s days are often spent traveling to farms on the East Coast, Central, and South America in order to meet with customers and growers. He enjoys working at Stella Farms because his work there enables him to connect who he is with the world around him. He also appreciates that Stella Farms emphasizes personal relationships with all stakeholders.
A fun fact about Marvin is that at 68, he is the youngest of four brothers, and all the brothers and their wives recently completed a 1000+ mile motorcycle ride in the Pacific Northwest!
Alex Weatherly is responsible for all the logistics concerning the import and delivery of pineapple—ensuring that it arrives to customers on time. She also aids with administrative and accounting duties as needed. A typical day for Alex begins by checking on deliveries and ensuring everything arrived as planned, followed by monitoring vessel arrivals, customs exams, inventory needs, and preparing for future deliveries.
Her favorite part about working at Stella Farms is their fun and unique company culture and the fact that she always looks forward to coming to work each day. She also appreciates how focused the team is on their customers—picking fruit specific to each individual need and always treating them with the best service possible.
Alex enjoys wearing converse shoes to work each day and working on puzzles in her off time.
Wade Wilson is Stella Farms' Controller and he manages all facets of the accounting department. A typical day for Wade involves overseeing financial production and analysis, order adjustments, payment approvals, invoicing, PR processing and human resources. It's Wade who keeps the business organized!
His favorite part about working at Stella Farms is the diversity of the team, being surrounded by the best and brightest in the industry, and the family-like culture they share together.
Outside of work, Wade's passion and drive is his young daughter, Eleanor.
Adam Santoro is Stella Farms' staff accountant, and he spends his days handling all account receivables and payables.
What he likes most about working at Stella Farms is that everyone on the team is extremely hard working and willing to assist anyone who needs help.
When Adam isn't at work he enjoys being outside in the sun and playing basketball.
Jared Aguilar is Stella’s logistics manager, and he makes sure that all deliveries get to the right customer on time and as expected. His days involve strategically planning and managing logistics and transportation; directing and coordinating full order cycle; negotiating with carriers and transportation providers; keeping track of delivery times, transport costs and efficiency; resolving problems/complaints; meeting cost and productivity targets; assessing performance; and complying with laws, regulations and DOT requirements.
Jared has extensive experience in logistics in numerous industries, but knew he wanted to join the produce industry with Stella as soon as he was interviewed. His goal was to find a company where he felt acknowledged and rewarded for his work, and he knew as soon as he met the smart, professional, and hard-working team at Stella that he had found the right place. He loves the family environment within the company that makes it fun to come to work every day, and the fact that everyone does everything they can to succeed as a team. He also enjoys when they grill out and play corn hole together!
In his spare time, Jared enjoys playing guitar, piano, and keeping entertained by listening to alien abduction podcasts!
Chris Elsie is the owner of Stella Farms, and his focus is always on making sure that the company is moving in the right direction. He does this by supporting his team and providing the direction and support they need in order to get the job done. He oversees all aspects of the company; from employees to growers and customers, he ensures that everyone has what they need in order to be successful. With more than 25 years in the produce industry, he brings a wealth of experience to the company and enjoys watching it grow and evolve.
Chris proudly boasts that Stella Farms has the best people in the business, which is not by accident. When the company looks to hire, they choose people who are not only skilled in their jobs, but those who also fit within the shared company culture. This shared culture and vision resonates with customers and growers who know that anyone who works for Stella Farms is trustworthy, professional, and extremely hard working. The culture that the team has built together is the thing Chris is the most proud of. He also enjoys the produce industry itself—the fact that it’s never boring, it’s always changing, and that it’s filled with exceptional, down to earth people who he interacts with year after year.
In addition to running Stella Farms, Chris cherishes time with his wife, Tracey, and his daughter, Grace. They enjoy watching movies together and are all self-proclaimed movie buffs! They also love to share music together—going to concerts and sharing playlists—their passion for movies and music binds them together and has created countless wonderful memories. And while Tracey isn’t a Stella Farms’ employee, she is undoubtedly a valuable member of the team. Whether it’s bringing in snacks for everyone or planning birthday parties or company events, she takes care of the Stella Farms family as her own.