“I wanted to be part of this company because I grew up drinking Tree Top apple juice,” said Brandon Lawson.
Brandon has never strayed too far from the sprawling orchards and the fields that dot California’s landscape. He grew up in a family of citrus growers right in the heart of Central Valley, Fresno.
Not long after graduating from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Business and Managerial Economics, Brandon tried out numerous roles, but the agriculture industry kept calling him back. When an old friend told him his favorite childhood juice company was looking for a field account manager, he jumped at the chance.
That was eight years ago, and we’re proud to say Brandon thinks the apple juice he used to drink is still just as great, but there’s a whole lot more to it than good apples.
“I work with a variety of fruits, from the strawberries going to Oxnard, to stone fruits like peaches and apricots, to the pears grown in California up to Medford, Oregon,” said Brandon.
Brandon’s day, even his entire year, is wholly dependent on the fruit he’s helping growers prepare for harvest or the buds undergoing supervision.
Brandon elaborated, “We follow the fruit down here—there is no such thing as a slow season.” Strawberries, peaches, and pears (and more!) all need to be harvested and tended to from the beginning of spring through fall, so Brandon and his team are always busy.
Brandon spends most of his time out on the roads talking primarily with farmers to coordinate harvest and with pack houses to coordinate packing and storage. “I enjoy the traveling,” said Brandon, “I would rather be out fostering these relationships than sitting in a cubical calling our farmers.”
He’s always off meeting someone out in the field, looking at the bloom, checking the quality, and trying to get an idea about the size of the harvest. If he’s not out in an orchard somewhere between Medford, Oregon and Oxnard, California, you’re sure to find him engaging with people in our pack and warehouses.
Brandon explained, “Part of the job is building the relationships and learning how to communicate to everyone—from the farmer, to the house manager, to the person driving the forklift on the warehouse floor.”
Growing up in a family culture rich with agricultural history has helped him create those strong face-to-face relationships with the farmers and house managers because he can speak to their concerns, goals, and needs.
“There’s an expectation down here to be pretty independent, a self-starter,” commented Brandon. “Spending time face-to-face with people establishes and builds trust. I know I can count on my growers to fulfill their end, and they can rely on me to get the fruit when harvest comes around. For some of our growers, their livelihood relies on us purchasing their fruit and turning it into food.”
It all starts out there – in the fields and orchards. Every day is a little different. Whether it’s prepping an orchard for harvest six months away or a harvest happening that afternoon, Brandon is out there making sure everyone’s needs are met and we are getting the best fruit possible.
Brandon is proud to let people know who he is and why he’s out there. It is thanks to his diligence and love for agriculture that we are able to create high-quality food that the whole family can enjoy.