Starting with the company’s founder, each member of the Tierra Farm team has an interest in producing deliciously healthful food, creating strategies to help employees become successful, contributing to the community, assisting other retail businesses, protecting the planet through renewable energy and recycled packaging, and maintaining an independent and pioneering spirit.
Founder and President
Tierra Farm’s founder and president, Gunther Fishgold, is passionate about organic food, creating jobs, and building communities through fair business practices that are sustainable for a just and equitable future. Since his early days lobbying for clean agricultural practices within the New York State legislature, Gunther has been on a distinct path in the organic community.
Using the funds he earned from lobbying and consulting, he bought a farm in the late ‘90s off Lake Skaneateles in the Finger Lakes region of New York, and developed it into a thriving CSA and summer café. Using only organic ingredients and products primarily grown on his land, the property was named Tierra Farm, after Gunther’s dog.
With a successful farm under his belt, Gunther looked for a new business project to get him through the long winters of upstate New York. He experimented with baking breads, then tried baking granola, finally settling on roasting nuts. The first recipes were developed using a pizza oven he kept in the barn. Gunther developed the Tierra Farm nut roasting company into a nice, small, local business serving about a dozen upstate New York natural food co-ops.
With growth in mind, he moved the business out of his barn and into a small warehouse in the capital region of New York, where he would benefit from a more diverse pool of potential employees and more centralized distribution. And grow it did. Starting with just a few employees, Gunther drove the business to employing over 60 workers, with national direct distribution of multiple product lines, including raw and roasted organic nuts, chocolate covered products, fair-trade coffee, nut butters, and granola.
In 2005, Gunther moved the business to a 10-acre facility in Valatie, NY where the company currently resides. As the business has grown, Gunther has been able to maintain his passion for organic agriculture by continuously running a certified-organic farm which services a number of local retail establishments which he has personally helped to develop, including a bagel shop, an outdoor apparel store, a local movie theater, and a couple of cafés.
Gunther has always promoted fair business practices, setting an example by paying fair and living wages, promoting direct relationships to his vendors and consumers, and by building businesses with organic principles as their anchor. In addition to investing time and money in making his local community stronger by developing retail businesses, he has served on a number of boards of local community organizations as well as in the organic farming world.
Gunther is married with two children. He is an avid farmer, fisher, and has helped train and promote a number of professional boxing competitors.
Chief Executive Officer
Todd Kletter, Tierra Farm’s CEO, is a consummate business professional and hands-on executive recognized for providing dynamic leadership, skilled negotiating, and exhibiting entrepreneurial spirit.
Todd joined the Tierra Farm team in 2016 and hit the ground running by assessing the company’s processes and systems and implementing strategies that helped Tierra generate increased revenue and profitability.
With an MBA from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, and armed with close to 20 years of experience leading top wholesale suppliers and manufacturers across niche industries, Todd has brought an added level of sophistication to Tierra Farm’s crunchy granola vibe.
Like Tierra, sustainability and wellness are Todd’s core values, and he has maintained the importance of having a workplace culture that aspires to treat its clients, vendors, and employees incredibly well. Before joining Tierra Farm, Todd was a managing partner at W.A. Packaging for five years, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Supply for three years, and President of National Graphic Supply for nine years.
Todd is proud to be a part of a company where sustainability is front and center. “My school of thought is to make the employees the priority over everything,” states Kletter. “The idea being, if you treat your employees right, those employees will be the ones who interact with customers, making their experience better. From the top down, we work tirelessly to ensure that we’re a model of environmental responsibility, employee appreciation, and customer engagement. This model is successfully proved by the quality of our product and the quality of our service.”
Todd lives in the capital region with his wife Alison. He is an avid golfer and is involved in a number of charitable and business leadership organizations.
Chief Operating Officer
Dan Laiosa, Chief Operations Officer, fell into Tierra Farm a little over a year after graduating college and he’s been here ever since. Dan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Albany. He put his English skills to the test, first working for Gannet News Service, and then later selling cars.
Dan met Gunther about a year before the business moved to the capital district and his original interest was working on the farm for a summer. Instead, Gunther put Dan to work preparing the new warehouse for food production, then doing the food production, all while answering the phones and preparing the daily orders.
With the hard-working skills Dan developed as an Eagle Scout, he was able to scale up with the business, from helping set up the original factory to helping develop the retail website, to being director of sales and marketing, keeping Tierra’s numerous certifications in order and running a farmer’s market division in New York City for some time.
Dan has worn many hats at Tierra and has always risen to the challenge of consistently delivering an exceptionally high-quality product to the consumer, while also running the business’s day-to-day operations.
Dan now has a decade and a half of direct, hands-on experience, navigating the depths of the organic food marketplace while helping his team maintain its independent, pioneering spirit.
Dan lives right near the Madison Theater, an original RKO theater he has helped restore and run in the Pine Hills neighborhood of Albany. He has a wife, a dog named Bruce, and two cats, LC & David Bowie.
Director of Human Resources
Tierra Farm plucked Tamami Naamon from the factory they purchased in 2005. The building, then owned by Rapunzel Pure Organics, a subsidiary of Rapunzel AG, the leading organic food manufacturer in Germany, was her employer and we here at Tierra like to joke that Tamami literally came with the building.
She currently runs Tierra Farm’s human resources department, and has acted for many years as the spiritual backbone of the company. She has close to 20 years of experience working in organic food commodities companies, originally doing market research in Asia.
Tamami was born in Japan and came to the U.S. for her degrees. After graduating, she accompanied her husband Paul to Brazil and then to Japan, where he studied to become a Buddhist priest while also continuing his own academic research.
After a number of years abroad, they returned state side in 1995 to establish the Karuna Tendai Dharma Center in Canaan, New York. The temple was recognized by the headquarters of Tendai Buddhism in Japan and was made into the Head Temple of Tendai Buddhism in North America.
With the support of Tierra Farm, Tamami was able to travel back to Japan to train and become an ordained Tendai priest. As part of the executive team at Tierra, Tamami has always kept the company grounded in fair business practices with our vendors, customers, and employees. She has always been dedicated to being part of a company that puts its social and environment conscience first over profits and growth.
When Tamami isn’t keeping the books and managing payroll, she loves to cook, travel, and work in her garden.