Tree of Life Forms New East Region

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Specialty distributor and marketer Tree of Life, Inc. is in the final stages of its reorganization and is introducing new service capabilities that it said will enhance its position as a "superior source of supply" for organic, natural, and specialty food products throughout North America.

Tree of Life has merged its Northeast and Southeast regional operations corporate headquarters to form the new East Region. This move concentrates Tree of Life's U.S. distribution business into three regional offices in St. Augustine, Fla.; Dallas, Texas; and Bloomington, Ind.

"Our new, more streamlined organization allows us to put our best people in leadership positions close to our customers, and extend one consistent set of best practices across the company," said president and c.e.o. Alec Covington in a statement. "It also creates synergies that help us improve customer service and allows us to take all unnecessary costs out of our operations."

Now serving as satellite distribution facilities for the East Region are Tree of Life Northeast in North Bergen, N.J., Gourmet Award Foods Northeast in Albany, N.Y., Gourmet Award Foods Mid Atlantic in Atlanta, and Gourmet Award Foods South Florida in Ft. Lauderdale.

David Humphrey, president of Tree of Life's business management group, which includes the sales, marketing and procurement functions, assumes the additional responsibilities of president of the East Region.

The formation of the East Region completes the reorganization of the company's management structure begun in 2004.

The company will also immediately implement a reorganization of its procurement-related activities, designed to drive advanced category management and inventory utilization practices and benefit both customers and suppliers.

The purchasing function will be separated into category management (with responsibility for assortment optimization), vendor management (vendor relations and pricing), and inventory management (purchase orders and service level). These disciplines will be led by Rick Moller, s.v.p. of category management, Troy Benscoter, v.p. of vendor management, and Laurie Johnson, v.p. of inventory management.

Tree of Life also said it has entered into new distribution agreements with the Penn Traffic Company and Coborn's, Inc. The distributor serves accounts throughout the United States and Canada, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Wessanen NV, based in The Netherlands.
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