The History of Bayshore Vegetable Shippers: Humble Beginnings


In 1929, Edward Bullock lived in Burlington with his wife and two children.  Economic times were difficult and Edward quickly discovered that his job as a labourer on a local farm would not generate enough income to support his family.  Edward decided to take his chances and go out on his own.  He heard in town that a number of men were growing and buying local produce to ship up north.  Apparently, they were making a very good living.  With a $500 loan from a mutual friend, Edward bought a 1929 Chevy stake truck and used the left over money to fill his truck with produce from Aldershot Storage.  Unfortunately, Edward arrived in late in Owen Sound and was devastated to find the stores already fully stocked.  One of the storekeepers felt badly for Edward and suggested he go over to see the Lemon Bros. Wholesale in town.  Fortunately, for Edward, Lemon Bros. Wholesale bought the whole load and asked Edward to head back to Aldershot and return immediately with another load.  Turns out, the Lemon Bros. would become part of a group that would form National Grocers.


First Farm

Ten years later, in 1939, Edward bought a five acre farm off Plains Road in Burlington.  The site proved to be an excellent growing area, as well as convenient location to run his wholesale operation with National Grocers, his largest account.  At the same time, Jack DeGraaf was wholesaling locally grown produce the same way Edward was up north; however, Jack’s largest account was the A& P Tea Company.  In 1945, after serving in the war, Edward’s son, Theo and Jack’s son, Stan got involved in the family business with their fathers.  By the mid 1950’s Edward and Theo dropped the farming aspect of the business to concentrate solely on wholesale business.  In the late 50’s Jack passed away, leaving Stan to take over his Dad’s business.  The business soon became known as Stan DeGraaf Wholesale.

Formation of Skyway Growers

In the early 60’s there were five wholesale dealers in Burlington and two from Toronto, all buying from the same block of growers in the Maple Avenue area.  In 1963, the growers decided to eliminate the wholesale dealers and take business into their own hands.  This venture was headed up by two very strong-willed growers George Thorpe and Peter Lindley.  Their hard work and determination led to formation of “Skyway Growers”.


The Creation of Bayshore Vegetable Shippers

After the creation of Skyway Growers, Theo knew he needed to do something with the Maple business, otherwise he would end up being bought out by one of the wholesalers in Toronto.  Theo got the courage to call Stan and asked him if he would be interested in a joint venture.   Stan agreed and the two formed “Bayshore Vegetable Shippers”.  The name came from the proximity of the business to the Burlington Bay.  Stan and Theo decided to approach Skyway Growers to see if they would be interested in Bayshore Vegetable Shippers acting as the sole wholesaler representative for Skyway Growers.  Stan and Theo made it clear that Skyway Growers would be their #1 priority and that they would handle 100% of their production.  After outlining company policies, and several drafts, a contract was agreed upon and signed.  Within one year Bayshore Vegetable Shippers had outgrown their facilities.  In the spring of 1970, they purchased a piece of property at 1050 Heritage Road, Burlington.  A 12,000 square foot refrigerated distribution facility was built.


Time to Retire – Passing of Ownership

After thirty-seven years in the produce business, Theo and Stan decided to retire.  1n 1983, Elgin and Gord Forth and Murray Laking (originally growers for Bayshore) became the new owners.  Don Leahy was the Sales Manager, Neil Bullock as General Manager, Frank Germana in Sales and Jim King as Warehouse Manager.  Despite a valiant effort, the new owners struggled and found the business a larger challenge than anticipated.  After a taste of retirement, Theo and Stand did not want to venture back into business.  As a result, they approached Frank Germana, Neil Bullock and Jim King to see if they would be interested in purchasing the business.  The threesome agreed and the ownership was transferred. Frank retired in the late 1990’s and Neil retired in 2006.  Barak Tatarn and Valerie Fracchioni took over as owners.  The following year, Valerie’s brother, Ernie, was added as junior partner.


Bayshore Vegetable Shippers Today

Today, Valerie and Ernie are at the helm and Bayshore Vegetable Shippers represents over one hundred local growers.  They provide fresh produce for all major retailers in Canada and the United States.  BVS is proud of its humble beginnings and looks forward to continuing the tradition of high quality produce for the Canadian and USA marketplace.