Jerald Downs Reveals Berry People's Grower Relationships Strategy and Excellence
HOLLISTER, CA - Great vision can be supported by many elements in this industry, but the people and teams we surround ourselves with undeniably impact operational success as well as long-term viability and evolution. Berry People has long envisioned and executed grower partnerships with this value in mind, and it is paying dividends for both the company itself and its retail partners.
As Jerald Downs, President of Berry People, tells me, one can only grow at the speed of trust. I for one believe Berry People has that trust—and it starts with the mutual respect the company has for its people and the people express for the company.
“We have approached our buyer and grower relationships organically. We do this by strategically taking smaller positions on the sourcing- and sales-side and earning trust by basing our year-over-year business with our partners by performing to our promises,” Jerald reflects. “Additionally, Berry People takes pains to set and manage realistic expectations with buyers and growers as a means to steadily build lasting trust-bonds.”
As the company further integrates the business over time, the team expects to channel its investments through existing long-term relationships to further build on this established trust, enhance the company’s strong relationships with its partners, and remain committed to its dedication to supporting the people that give the company its name. Berry People’s vision is to support its partners in such a way as to achieve true long-term alignment and drive toward a mutual commitment to total supply chain success.
“For our buyers, this translates to a consistent grower base with increasing acreage and steadier supply,” Jerald says, adding that for Berry People’s growers, buyer loyalty translates to more stable and overall more competitive returns. “We focus on replenishing recurring weekly demand, and not merely on the placement of seasonal volumes at spot market pricing.”
This value proposition presented by Berry People helps to drive its program forward while offering differentiation and excellence in the competitive berry market. As Jerald tells me, this is intentional and strategic in many ways.
“Our name, Berry People, expresses our desire to form an inclusive community rather than an exclusive enterprise—which is why we don’t call ourselves ‘The’ Berry People," he says. "Our commitment to this community is represented by our logo, where every dot within the berry icon represents a contributor to Berry People’s vision. Each holds a complementary role as part of one unified team.”
Jerald’s passion for the Berry People community is evident in his words and in the company’s philosophy—a passion clearly shared and lived by all Berry People employees.
“Much of our culture and core beliefs as a company stems from my 25-plus years of business experience, where through the extremes of tremendous success and at times daunting failure, I learned the importance of stewardship, holding my work with an open hand, and leaning into and valuing my relationships and team members,” Jerald expresses. “I have learned to truly empathize with my buyer- and grower-partners and employees, conducting our business with all of these interests and objectives in mind.”
Jerald adds that Berry People’s notable focus on empathy is what holds its relationships together across diverse growing and market regions from Western Canada down to Southern Chile. He shares that, first and foremost, the company considers its work with customers and service providers as integrated, seeking to identify with, and plug into, its partners’ businesses.
“Where many produce shipping companies are either strong on the buyer or grower-client side—or strong on either the import or the domestic side—we seem to bridge the gap, having deep roots in both the retail and farming sides of the business and strong grower relationships domestically and abroad,” Jerald notes. “Culture and community play key roles in our global success.”
Times are changing, and only those with the most value outside and inside the organization will thrive and compete at the level of berry excellence. Berry People is helping to lead the charge in vision—with every grower, every buyer, and every berry.
“Growers choose Berry People because of our commitment to their bottom-line results, and our ‘matter of fact’ approach to communicating through the typical market and quality challenges inherent in our business,” Jerald tells me. “Our basic grower key performance indicators (KPI) are competitive returns, accurate accounting, and timely payables, and our goal is to support them with those metrics. Ultimately, also, for our growers, we provide them with continually competitive returns at increasing volumes over time. Essentially, we need to support profitable growth for them—and in turn, support the consumer demand our buyers are looking to meet—and this requires continual expansion of a high-quality distribution footprint.”
With all the berry possibilities on the horizon, this category innovator is driving vision with change and partnerships with trust and loyalty. To learn more about the company, check out this recent editorial.
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