Hi, I’m Simon Vignola. If we haven’t met yet, I am part of the next generation of Rancho Vignola, having taken the reins from my parents, Sue and Richard. I’m excited to be doing this in partnership with Indra – an incredible person, who is critical to keeping the day-to-day operation running smoothly!
Our story starts a couple of decades ago, but first, let me introduce you to Indra:
Hello, everyone, I’m Indra, and I’m excited to share a bit of our history with you today! To give you some context, I grew up with parents that LOVED natural foods and bought in bulk whenever possible. My family was growing their own food and making everything from scratch, even in a time when many families were switching to more convenience foods. So, when a close friend of Sue and Richard, who also happened to be their former employee, moved a few houses down from us and we were introduced to Rancho Vignola, it was love at first snack.
That fall my parents placed their first wholesale order, and to say our family was hooked would be an understatement. Each year the orders grew rapidly and our family began selling Rancho Vignola products on some of the West Coast islands in BC. Packaging Rancho Vignola products was one of my first jobs, along with helping my parents set up and sell the products at their fall sales and markets.
After many years of doing nutty business, our families finally met in person when the Vignola family came to visit and vacation at my parents’ kayak and wilderness lodge, Paddlers Inn, in the Broughton Archipelago on the BC coast. Years later I started working for Rancho Vignola directly after I moved to the Okanagan Valley to pursue a passion of working with horses.
I started only seasonally around my horse-focused life with the annual Harvest Sales; after all, I was basically raised for the job! It didn’t take long for me to transition to work the fall busy season at the warehouse, and the year after that I was hired as one of the first full time staff members. Little did I know that a decade after I moved to the Okanagan, Simon and I would be running Rancho Vignola together – but first – I’m going to let Simon tell you about growing up in the business.
Thanks, Indra. Well, what can I say – Rancho Vignola has always been part of my life; growing up in a family business, it was only natural. Some of my earliest memories are of the excitement every fall when we started to receive the new crop. Even from a young age, I understood the value and importance of eating wholesome food. Similar to Indra’s parents, this was an essential part of my upbringing – to open the fridge or the pantry in our home was to find nutritious, whole, minimally processed foods. This introduction in my early years has led to a lifelong appreciation for not only great food, but the people that grow it and the importance of supporting a strong food ecosystem that includes small farmers and producers.
When I was still in high school I would come to the warehouse every day after school and help out wherever a hand was needed. That led to a wide variety of experiences – from bagging product to picking orders to managing shipping and receiving – throughout my teenage years I became very familiar with all aspects of the operation.
Eventually, when I graduated from high school, my family and I both felt it was important to get exposure to other places and working in other businesses. This led me to move to Montreal, where I worked at another natural foods wholesaler! While my experiences certainly lent themselves easily to the job, it was interesting to see how other companies did things.
As a seasonal business, the Rancho Vignola team is extremely busy every fall – so even after I moved away I would return every fall for a few months to help my parents and stay involved. Following my time in Montreal, I moved to Calgary, working for another natural foods business – this time more on the retail side. Regardless of where I was or the work I was doing, I always felt a strong calling to return to the Okanagan and to support the work of Rancho Vignola. That move came about 15 years ago when my parents needed more year-round support as the business was growing and more people across Canada were coming to enjoy the Best of the New Crop from us every year!
Being part of a seasonal business the years seem to fly by even faster, which brings us to 2020. At this point, Indra and I have already been running Rancho Vignola together for years. So when my parents were looking to fully retire, we both felt like it was the perfect opportunity to take it on as the new owners of this special company that ultimately brought us together.
To say it’s been an incredible journey is an understatement. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting you, our community and bringing you the Best of the New Crop. That isn’t something we take lightly and it’s not something that we do on our own – we are only able to do this through our incredible network of farmers and suppliers, who are dedicated to growing, harvesting and producing the highest-quality, nutritious food available. It’s also enabled through the contribution of our amazing staff, who work together to ensure things not only run smoothly, but also that you, our customers, are happy at the end of the day. We can’t say enough great things about them. While 2020 has been a year of enormous change for all of us, we take comfort in the community that we’ve built. That includes YOU – whether you are a customer, a supplier, a team member or just someone who follows our stories and recipes online. You matter to us, and we are delighted that you are part of our story and we hope to continue being part of yours for years to come.