Alumni Profile

A Peach of a Business Idea

Food has always been front and center in the life of businessman Mark Monro ’83. “I started young, selling milk shakes to the junior and senior class in high school,” he says, smiling. Graduating with a degree in business and entrepreneurship, Monro was planning to return to the Bay Area to join his family’s restaurant business when he got a juicier offer: managing food services at USC during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

“All the planning was for a 16-day event, with about 250,000 visitors a day,” he says. “My job was to create a food court to serve the public. So I put together little European villages across the campus – a French café, a place that sold German sausages, a bakery. It was a lot of work, but everything was set up in advance, so once it opened, all I really had to do was have fun.”

To entertain a global village of athletes and visitors, Monro transformed the quad outside the USC Law School into an international garden complete with outdoor dance hall. “It was a free-for-all, with a different band every night – rock ’n’ roll, country, even an o
om-pah-pah band – every kind of music,” he happily recalls. “The beer flowed continuously! It was non-stop from morning till night.”

Over the last 17 years, Monro has engaged in a series of successful non-edible ventures – including founding Voice-Tel, a voice messaging business that he recently sold to publicly owned powerhouse Premiere Technologies. Tossing around for his next enterprise, Monro hit on something that promised to have him rolling in lettuce. “I woke up one morning and realized, ‘We live in a salad bowl!’” he says. Looking at the big grocery store chains, Monro understood that to these companies produce is just durable stock, meant to last on the shelf.
“But it doesn’t have the juice or flavor of premium produce,” he says. “I knew there had to be a way to market the best produce grown by our small local farmers.”

Monro turned his bright idea into FreshSuccess, a premium produce distributor that delivers one-of-a-kind gift boxes of fresh produce. He caters primarily to corporate clients, who use the service as part of their incentive program to support business development, customer retention and employee loyalty. “We’re marketing consultants as much as produce suppliers,” he notes. You wouldn’t want to send a basket of Granny Smiths to a Microsoft executive, now would you?

Affable and energetic, Monro brings tremendous enthusiasm to his work, even after 20 years of new venture-building. Does it ever get stale? His face brightens as he replies: “Once I get my heart into something, nothing stops me.”

– Kathy Wyer

Alumni by Year




Alumni Profiles

Joe Crow '39

Alice Gast '80

Mark Monro '83

Matt Vasgersian ’90

In Memoriam

Julie Kohl

Edward Zapanta