Jim Hazen and Chuck Zeutenhorst Delve into FirstFruits Farms' Culture and Drive
YAKIMA, WA - Known for its apple and cherry offerings, FirstFruits Farms delivers on quality and value—and it’s been doing so for 40 years. With terrific eating experiences and a suite of tools in its back pocket, the grower, packer, and shipper took us on an exclusive behind-the-greens look at its single-grower system.
“One of the elements that makes FirstFruits Farms very unique in Washington’s apple industry is that we’re a single-grower system,” Jim Hazen, President, tells us. “We pride ourselves in being experts in trying to understand what our customers need, whether that’s category management, whether that’s promotions or understanding apple sets, and then delivering results consistently.”
The grower covers four different areas, giving way to strong managers and people throughout the system.
“Unlike a smaller system or a more fragmented system, we feel like we have the top people in the industry when it comes to how we farm, who handles all of that within our production system and storage system, and our management in general,” Chuck Zuetenhorst, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, shares. “We feel like we have the top people because it takes the top people to drive a system that’s this large and this complex.”
FirstFruits was founded in the ’80s by Ralph and Cheryl Broetje. Since then, the company’s ideals have been around its people. Today, the grower provides a school system, a daycare, and other educational opportunities for its workforce alongside a church and store. Health-centered projects are always a focal point for the grower to provide for its workforce along with housing to meet their people’s needs.
“It’s a very community and people-oriented company,” says Chuck. “That’s what has driven us from the beginning, and that hasn’t changed in the last 40 years.”
Check out our exclusive video above to learn more about this incredible grower!