Highline Mushroom names new CEO

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Windsor Star/Kelly Steele




Aaron Hamer has been named the new chief executive officer of Highline Mushrooms in Leamington.

Hamer has been with Highline since 2014 as the chief financial officer. Hamer has been involved in mergers and acquisitions that have made Highline the world’s largest organic mushroom company, with operations and customers across Canada and the United States. Hamer, who previously held the CFO role for a leading aerospace company, plans to maintain Highline’s customer-first focus and commitment to excellence.

Earlier this week Hamer replaced Glenn Martin, who will continue as chairman with the company.

One such acquisition was last year when Highline Produce with five Canadian facilities  — including mushroom operations in Leamington and Kingsville — was acquired by Dublin-based Fyffes PLC, one of Europe’s largest fresh-food distributors, for $145 million.

Founded in 1961 by local physician, businessman and aviator Dr. Murray O’Neil, Highline has 1,150 Canadian employees and annual mushroom sales of more than 26 million kilograms.  O’Neil, an avid flyer, suffered a cardiac event while piloting his single-engine Piper J-3 Cub on July 30, 2007, and was likely dead at the time the aircraft crashed near Colchester. He was 80 years old.


Some of Highline’s original shareholders exited the business a few years ago and the company was acquired by a Texas-based private equity firm, which has now sold its holdings to Fyffes.

“Highline has been at the forefront of the mushroom industry’s innovation over the last 56 years, and we are thrilled with where we stand today,” said Hamer in a release.  “We are well positioned to keep growing ourselves, but more importantly, we focus on supporting our retail, food service and food ingredient customers in growing their mushroom categories.”

The appointment of the new CEO will not change Highline’s focus to continue to grow as a trusted leader in the North American mushroom market, the release states. The Leamington operation north of the town’s urban core houses the company’s biggest operation and its head office. From that site, more than 400 employees ship out 450,000 pounds of mushrooms a week, year-round.