Director of Marketing Kaylyn Bender Talks Market Fresh Produce's Rapid Growth
NIXA, MO - If you’ve been keeping your eye on fast-growing presences in the produce industry over the past few years, chances are you’ve heard the name Market Fresh Produce (MFP). Since now CEO Steve Phipps invested in MFP in 2005 with 28 years of produce experience under his belt, MFP has experienced a rapid period of growth—one that the company says has shaped it into the successful branded produce marketing company it is today.
“MFP is one of the fastest growing companies in the produce industry in the last several years,” Kaylyn Bender, the company’s Director of Marketing, tells me as we discuss the company’s history. “We went from being a company of two full time employees and one part time employee, to over 80 full time employees, 3 campuses, and a network of over 50 growers and partners throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. MFP started with one produce category with less than 10 product offerings, and is now providing over 100 offerings in more than seven produce categories today.”
Over the past 12 years, MFP has been able to significantly grow its business while providing top-of-the-line service and quality. After acquiring a tomato repack facility in Tampa, FL in 2013, and another repacking facility in Monett, MO, in 2014, Market Fresh has been able to further its 'Field to Fork' strategy towards vertical integration. Even just earlier this year, MFP became an equity partner with Scott Street Tomato, consolidating its Monett business with an already existing supply partner in Memphis, and resulting in even more efficient service to its customers.
“The focus of MFP is best in class service, quality, and marketing support for our valued customers and grower/partners,” Kaylyn says about the goal behind the expansions. “Our superior service is driven by our commitment to our most valuable resources—MFP employees. Steve Phipps continues to build a strong team of qualified professionals, recruiting talent from Fortune 500 companies within and outside of the food industry, and looking for the core competencies of integrity, positive attitude, and work ethic, which he feels are essential for success at a family-oriented business culture such as Market Fresh.”
And while this growth has further solidified the company’s culture, one member of MFP’s family has been noticeably absent—Tyler Phipps. Tyler, who passed away in September of 2015, was the company’s Senior Director of Sourcing and son of Steve Phipps. Since his passing, however, Tyler has become a beacon of hope for the future of the produce industry.
“Tyler Phipps was an integral person in the growth of this company,” Kaylyn says. “After his passing, we created the Tyler Phipps Scholarship Foundation in honor of him and to help assist in the growth of other young and promising individuals and professionals within the industry. Tyler would be very proud of the continued growth pattern Market Fresh is experiencing.”
More information about this worthy cause and application forms for the various scholarships can be found on the website, www.tylerphippsmemori
So, what does the future look like for MFP now that it has reached this level of success? Along with continuing to grow its product lines through innovation and market research, Kaylyn says the company’s vision is now unwavering on continuing to grow through acquisitions and new partnerships—all while continuing to provide best in class service and quality, of course.