After 27 years leading Peak of the Market, Larry McIntosh is set to retire this summer.
For Larry McIntosh, eating his vegetables is something everyone takes notice of.
“Whenever I’d go out to a restaurant, back when we could go out to restaurants, and I didn’t eat my brussel sprouts or something, the server almost always commented on it. I always had to eat my veggies,” McIntosh says in a phone interview.
The CEO and President of Peak of the Market is retiring this summer after 27 years of living, breathing (and eating) his job. Throughout his time at the helm of the Manitoba-based market co-operative, it has grown to export fresh produce across North America and now includes a second distribution centre and office in Calgary, Alta.
“I am feeling good (about retiring). From the point of view that we have a solid foundation of people here that are going to continue growing the company. But I’m also going to miss all the people and all the growers,” he says.
A Non-Ag/Food Background
McIntosh grew up in the Toronto, Ont. area. When he was 14, he started working as a stockperson at the local BiWay store — a bargain store chain. This marked the beginning of his more than four-decade career working in sales.
McIntosh worked his way up through the company, helping BiWay expand across the country. He left the company when he was a vice-president for Western Canada. At one point he was based in Winnipeg, Man. where he fell in love with the city. After he was transferred from Winnipeg, he still felt his heart was there leading him to look for a job which would bring him home.
In 1994, he was hired as the President and CEO of Peak of the Market. The market co-operative quickly became important to his life. He met his wife Shelley, an executive assistant at Peak of the Market, at work. For 26 years they worked by each other’s sides until the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba in March 2020 causing many Peak employees to start working remotely — including Shelley.
Dave Whitmore has worked with McIntosh for 37 years, having worked together at BiWay and then the last 26 at Peak of the Market. Over that time, they’ve developed a professional respect for each other.
“We’ve been working together so long that we kind of know what each other thinks — like being married. And it’s nice to be able to have someone that you can talk to and be yourself and throw ideas out that may sound crazy sometimes, where other people might shoot you down,” the vice-president of sales for Peak of the Market explains in a phone interview.
A Changing Potato Culture
For Mcintosh, there have been many high and lows over the years of working at Peak of the Market. When the Atkins Diet — which didn’t cast potatoes in the best light — became popular, Peak of the Market worked to educate people on the health benefits of spuds. And when potato consumption had started to become stagnant, the Peak of the Market team created the Potahto campaign which encouraged potato eating through fun videos, billboards and other content.
As McIntosh moves toward retirement though, he isn’t slowing down. Following his last day at Peak of the Market, he plans to focus more on his volunteering endeavours. McIntosh is a member of many boards including the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council.
“Those three organizations have a fair amount of meetings per year, with quite a bit of information to read, and I hope to be even more involved than I’ve been able to since I will have more time. And then Shelley, my wife, and I hope to do some traveling once we are able to travel again,” McIntosh says.