Shenandoah Growers' CEO Tim Heydon Offers an Inside Look at the Future of the Company
ROCKINGHAM, VA - Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if innovative thinkers never pushed the boundaries of what was possible? While it is impossible to fully wrap your head around the concept, I know one thing for certain—without those pioneers in fresh produce, like Tim Heydon, CEO of Shenandoah Growers, our industry would be only a faint glimmer of what it has become today. That is why innovation remains a key tenant of Shenandoah’s mission, and why I sat down with Tim to see what Shenandoah’s future holds.
“Early on, I had three fundamental principles,” Tim starts off. “The first was empowerment: meaning empowerment of the individual because that's how you build trust and truly maximize people’s potential. The next was innovation, which meant finding better ways to do things—that's how we evolved our production system. This can only happen when empowerment is present. And then, perseverance. All business is challenging, and produce is no different, particularly because you have so many variables to deal with. All of this is what the company’s foundation was built on.”
These fundamental principles have been the driving force of Shenandoah since Tim started with the company over 23 years ago.
Since March of 1998, Tim has been using his key building blocks of empowerment, perseverance, and innovation to evolve Shenandoah into what it is today. With the tireless dedication of himself and his associates, the company has grown from a 15-person operation with less than $1 million in sales to a highly successful indoor grower with a top-selling herb brand.
One of the threads throughout Tim’s tenure as CEO is the evolution of Shenandoah’s growing practices and sustainability methods.
“As we developed our production system, we started in the fields, then moved to greenhouses, and then we naturally innovated to move fully indoors,” Tim explains. “We use bioponic soil methods, so the best way to think about Shenandoah Growers’ indoor system is working nature indoors. Nature has had millions of years to evolve a fantastic way to grow, and we just want to facilitate that process inside.”
At the heart of these practices is an attention to detail and commitment to providing healthful flavor, while also achieving the best possible products that offer buyers and consumers affordability and accessibility. In that way, Shenandoah’s products are not only environmentally sustainable, but financially sustainable.
“Being organic, sustainable, and affordable is the foundation behind everything we produce. We want everyone to share in healthful flavor, and overall, the vision is to be a substantial contributor in creating a food system that fully meets all of these standards,” says Tim. “That’s why we have the brand That's Tasty™ and why we’ve made everything USDA Certified Organic.”
Tim makes it clear that, while all of these dynamic aspects at Shenandoah’s core are essential driving forces, at the center of everything is the consumer. The needs of the consumer steer the company’s direction, and on a larger scale, shoppers are the one thing that connects everyone across our industry.
“At the end of the day, everyone wins when we focus on the customer and understand what the customer's needs are,” Tim explains. “The consumer is what helps us to develop programs and what drives us to keep innovating.”
Where will this spirit of constant evolution take Shenandoah as it continues to make a lasting impact on the industry? I, for one, am more than excited to find out.
To delve deeper into the world of fresh produce, make sure to keep reading AndNowUKnow.