Anthony Spiteri has had the type of storied career many business students dream of.
With 30 years of consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, food service, retail, and media experience, he has made a significant difference and left his mark at some of the most prolific brands in Canada.
His future was bright from the beginning, graduating from Niagara College’s Business Administration, Marketing Management program in 1989 and being the first college graduate to land a co-op role at Maple Leaf Foods, the largest food processor in the country. From there, he has gone on to help facilitate success in companies that range in size, from under $1 million to over $5.5 billion, such as Maple Leaf Foods, Lilydale, Pintys, and eventually Freshstone Brands, where he is currently the Chief Commercial Officer and President
“I was able to leverage everything I learnt in school, and I was shocked in those early days because I was working with some really talented people, but some of the academic basics, they didn’t have,” said Spiteri, as he reflected on his early days at Maple Leaf Foods. “It dawns on me now … I’d have people in their fifties having an open discussion about business and they were treating me like I had something to offer.”
He made history again at the company by becoming the first college graduate to be selected for their Management Trainee program. Historically, these positions were reserved solely for university graduates.
In total, Spiteri spent 11 years at Maple Leaf, learning from the likes of Wallace McCain and Archie McLean, two of Canada’s best business minds. During his time there, he turned the poultry division around by leading and developing the Maple Leaf Prime Chicken brand. It was the first time a fresh meat product had ever been branded in Canada, and the business move, “took a company that was losing a million dollars a month to a division that was making 18% return on net assets.”
That was only his first job.
Spiteri’s next move brought him out west for several years, working first with a small supermarket chain in Victoria, British Columbia and then moving onto premium poultry brand Lilydale, where he helped the company hold the title of fastest-growing brand of poultry in Canada as their Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.
From there, he was recruited to be the New Food Classics as President and CEO of New Food Classics, in Calgary, Alberta, where he and his team took on Walmart and Costco to sell their products. After attempts to merge with or acquire Pintys, a Canadian company that specializes in premium fresh and frozen foods, Spiteri was offered a minority stake in the company to join. Along with his team, they quickly commenced making Pintys nationally-recognized brand with official partners such as the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, and Toronto Blue Jays.
After seven years, Pintys was subsequently purchased by Canadian agri-food leader Olymel L.P. Spiteri was soon asked to become the Global Vice President of Marketing for the acquiring company. Within Olymel, with revenue of $5.5 billion, Spiteri and his team were responsible for 13 brands across 37 countries.
At that point, he had his sights set on retirement, but a colleague from his tenure at Lilydale pulled Spiteri back in and asked if he would join him in his new venture at Freshstone Brands. Originally tasked with the role of Chief Commercial Officer, seven weeks after joining, he was asked by the Board and CEO take on the additional role of President.
Ever humble about his accomplishments, Spiteri said the foundation to it all was established at Niagara College.
“Virtually everything from those business programs, I use to this day,” he said.
He also attributes much of his successes and business opportunities to maintaining good relationships with his colleagues, as nearly all his career moves came from offers of those he worked with previously. Although his legacy in business is difficult to be matched, it is these relationships that bring him the most pride.
“The majority of the people I’ve gotten to meet remain very good business associates but some of them have actually become family,” he said. “I think that’s what I’m most proud of.”