California is the West Coast equivalent to Florida, the Sunshine State and according to Dan Winiecke, it’s in a perpetual harvest season.
“I’ve been in this position for over 20 years—first with Sabroso and then with Tree Top after they bought Sabroso back in 2009,” said Dan. With that long tenure comes a tremendous amount of knowledge and bins full of experience.
“Everything seems to just move a little bit faster down here,” commented Dan, who works primarily with fruit like strawberries that deteriorate quickly—the same day in many cases.
With these lightning fast windows to process fruit, Dan spends a large chunk of his time working out the logistics of getting the fruit quickly from point A to B so everything can be processed in time.
“Some days everything just comes together, while others seem a bit more hectic. There might be a rainstorm coming and we need to pick the fruit sooner to keep it from going bad. So, I’m working with my growers and pack houses to get the bins and people out here to start harvesting,” he said.
“I’m always looking out for what the company needs, but also what our growers need. It’s a working relationship. We want each other to do well because it means everyone wins,” Dan continued.
Once the day ends and Dan gets to return home, he doesn’t just leave the fruit in the field or orchard. Sometimes, he’s able to take some home, and that’s where the fun really begins. Dan explained, “I love working with fruit. I’ll go home and spend time making my own fruit snacks and juices. It’s fun and educational for me to see what can be done with all of the various fruit we process at Tree Top.”
“With Tree Top, the growers like knowing where their fruit is going. Most didn’t get into farming to help themselves—they wanted to grow good food for real people,” Dan said. These growers trust Tree Top and are proud to know their fruit is being made into something good that everyone can enjoy.
Dan said, “I take time to listen and understand exactly what our pack houses and growers need from us, so we get the best harvest possible.” It’s not just about making sure the fruit is at the proper brix level to be picked. It’s coordinating with the pack houses to get bins in place, coordinating with the trucks to make sure the shipment is picked up and dropped off at the right time, and making sure the fruit either goes straight to processing or is stored correctly. Dan and the Field Team are the ones making sure the logistics are in place before harvest ever happens so Tree Top gets the quality fruit we need, while making sure the growers have a great experience.
Dan reflected, “Relationships are the backbone of everything we do. If we can’t have an open and honest conversation about the crop, then none of us are going to succeed. We work together out here. We look out for each other, it’s just second nature. It’s what we do.”