Pacific International Marketing Talks Vision and Progressive Grower Members
SALINAS, CA - Sweat equity, passion, and risk—these are terms that do not fall lightly on the shoulders of our industry’s leaders, they are words of gravity and weight that we bestow upon our finest fresh produce trailblazers. As stewards of the land, companies like Pacific International Marketing know that hard work is not only inevitable but character building, that passion knows no clock, and that risk is inherent in growth.
Just ask Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and President Dave Johnson and Chief Operating Officer and Vice President David Black, who share how, at the roots of these ideals, lie partnerships, growers, and team members—the lifeblood of the company’s success.
“We take the definition of teamwork to heart and our growers are our partners, allowing us not only an expansion of our vision, but of our ability to execute leading-edge strategies and drive customer relationships forward,” Dave shares with me. “It is this grower-centric vision that generates our value, excellence, and differentiation in an evermore competitive fresh produce environment.”
Pacific’s goal when it comes to maintaining a progressive front for its expanding commodity offerings and customer base is to try to integrate growers into its system, then let them do what they do best. Working with all of Pacific’s growers to maintain a year-round supply of fresh produce means that its team members all take a hands-on approach to do what they can to be there for their growers in times of need.
“For example, if they are long on product, we are able to reach out to our customers and move the category due to the strong relationships we have with both sides of the supply chain—those caring for the land and those placing the produce in the hands of the end consumer,” David reflects. “Because of the relationship we have with our growers, we are involved from the ground up. This accountability factor and sense of ownership is not a role we shed at the end of the day. We all feel a responsibility to bring value to each member from the field to the fresh produce department.”
And this sense of ownership is one that started much earlier in the story, all the way back in a three-bedroom house that Dave, with Co-Founder Tom Russell, worked out of for three years as the marketing arm for Pacific Fresh.
“Tom and I worked at Cal West Produce together and were not receiving many opportunities for growth there. So we took a chance in 1989 and made the jump to Pacific Fresh,” Dave tells me.
In 1990, they moved to Grower’s Street for a few years, then to where Pacific is now on Airport Blvd. in Salinas, California. Dave and Tom took Pacific Fresh over in the mid-’90s, and this allowed them to expand its grower connections with over 100 growers.
“We started exporting product and were able to consolidate our grower base and expand packing in California’s Salinas, Coachella, Imperial Valley, and Santa Maria regions as well as Arizona’s Yuma and Phoenix regions, packing into our family of labels,” Dave says.
In 1998, the company started its journey in organics and value-added items, proving that the greater the risk, the more profound the reward as those two segments continue to hit milestone after milestone across the industry today.
Tom passed away in 2017, and his presence, passion, and dedication still remain a foundational element in all Pacific does each day and each year.
“Today, we offer about 20,000 acres of conventional row crops, as well as nearly 5,000 acres of organic produce,” David shares with me. “We started with a vision to supply the best produce that Mother Nature has to offer and I believe Pacific is not only living up to that promise today, but exceeding it.”
It is easy to sense the deep intention and dedication of the Pacific International Marketing team. To see how its vision both connects Pacific to the land in which it stewards and also sets it apart from the fresh produce pack. It is that difference that keeps the team and its expanding program one step ahead at the end of the day.