Matt Mandel and Craig Slate Share the Values and Vision of SunFed's Program
RIO RICO, AZ - SunFed is a company that stakes its claim and its name on quality. By striving for Perfect Produce 365 days a year, SunFed is constantly reinvesting and recommitting to its priorities and, more than anything, its people. Even with the challenges imposed by COVID-19, SunFed is aligning itself internally with its employees and with customers as well, in order to find the opportunities that this moment in time can allow them.
“I am so proud of how our team has stepped up to the call of duty during an incredibly stressful and uncertain time,” Matt Mandel, Vice President of Finance and Legal, shares with me. “It takes a tremendous amount of resilience to be able to put your own personal fears aside, your own feelings of uncertainty about tomorrow, and show up every day and pour your heart into it. There is a reason Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue called food workers American HEROES.”
SunFed’s priority, first and foremost, is to protect the health of its workforce, supply-chain partners, and ultimately its customers. While the company’s internal food safety protocols have provided the team with a solid base to work from, when SunFed first started making moves in early March the team acted out of an over-abundance of caution to limit any unnecessary interaction and limit any potential transmission.
“We asked all of our office staff to work from home with a few individuals rotating through the office in order to take care of any tasks that are not able to be performed remotely. However, our biggest concern and challenge was our tremendous associates in our warehouse who have been unable to perform their mission-critical functions remotely,” Matt expresses. “In order to keep them as safe as possible from an invisible threat, we made sure that we secured enough PPE to be able to mandate and provide this potentially life-saving equipment to our entire staff. We enacted a mobile check-in system for all arriving truck drivers to limit in-person interactions as well as prohibiting anyone from entering the facility who were not employees or required federal inspectors."
SunFed also has routine wellness checks for all of its employees and is ensuring the team maintains a healthy physical separation from one another.
As Matt adds, employees are SunFed’s most prized asset and though the company may be operating a little more slowly than before, there is no price anyone can put on the steps the team is taking to protect the staff and keep them healthy.
“Our Perfect Produce® philosophy is what we aspire to, across every part of the supply chain we touch, and our amazing team is the fuel and the motivation for that vision,” Craig Slate, President and CEO, shares with me. “Because we are used to strict protocols, adhering to high standards, investing in the future, constant communication, having the perfect team, and always focusing on the ranches' success coupled with our customer’s satisfaction—we are better prepared for the unexpected. Our ranches and our field team in Mexico haven’t missed a beat in terms of food safety, production levels, and quality. Our warehouse squad has gone over and above to make sure SunFed receives quality produce efficiently, and seamlessly with a smaller staff and new protocols for loading and loading our trucks.”
The company has risen to the occasion in both integrity and grit, both Matt and Craig add.
“Our forward-looking plans include the addition of trucks which have given us and our partners confidence that we have a delivery solution even if there’s a shortage of equipment. And finally, if our partners want squash, cukes, Romas, or other categories packaged versus bulk because their customers are looking for more packaged produce—we have them covered,” Craig says. “We already have the package designs and solutions in place to move quickly from bulk to packaged.”
For more on the current evolution and status of SunFed’s Perfect Produce Program, check out this recent update as well.
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