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Dan Vache, supply chain expert, retires… for now

Immediately after graduating from high school, Dan Vache secured a job with Ryan Instruments in his native Washington state. It was a job that he would keep through college and which ultimately propelled him into his produce industry career as a supply chain expert. Recently, after helping the transportation management firm Freight Flow launch, Vache retired to spend some time with his grandkids and to travel with his wife, Carolyn.

“I started working in 1971 when I was 19 and I have worked full-time ever since,” he said. “I promised Carolyn that I’d take some time off and spend some good quality family time and travel a bit. I have traveled a lot for business, but that’s not the same. You really don’t get to see a whole lot of the cities you go to.”

When Vache started in 1971, he was an instrument technician, involved in assembly and repair of the Ryan product, which was a name that was synonymous with the temperature recording device. Most often it was put in the back of a refrigerated tractor-trailer to record the temperature during transit. If a load arrived with problems, the data recorded could pinpoint if a temperature breakdown played a role.Dan-Vache

Vache kept his job as he went through Eastern Washington University participating on the track team as a sprinter and earning a teaching credential. After graduating in 1976, he began interviewing for a teaching job. “At the time, teaching jobs were scarce and teachers didn’t get paid very well.”

Instead he took a full-time job with Ryan in its sales department. In 1977, he was offered a position as district sales manager and he moved their sight unseen as a single guy looking for an adventure. His territory included much of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California and Arizona’s desert production areas, including Yuma, Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley.

In 1989, Vache moved back to the headquarters in Washington as vice president of sales with Carolyn as his wife. He stayed with Ryan for another 20 years. During his tenure he survived five buyouts and acquisitions as Ryan was an attractive target for venture capitalists.  

The final purchaser was Sensitech Inc., which eventually retired the well-known Ryan name.

Vache left the organization in late 2008 and joined the United Fresh Produce Association in January 2009 as vice president of supply chain management. He remained in that position until July of 2017 when he joined Freight Flow, a transportation management system, to help launch its business model into the produce industry. He was tasked with connecting the firm with his many industry contacts.  

“I helped get them launched and then I made the decision to take some time off,” he told The Produce News in mid-April as he was beginning his retirement.

At age 65, Vache is committed to taking time off for some unspecified length of time, and though he does use the phrase “I’m retired,” he seems a bit hesitant to embrace the concept. “I like this industry and I’d like to remain connected,” he said, noting that he has been contacted about doing some special projects in the supply chain area.

“But right now, I am taking time off.  I’m retired!”