Sam grew up in the Columbia Basin in Washington state. His family has been in the ag business for nearly 70 years. Sam spent many summers working in their packing facilities and out in the field.
“My work experience in ag started from the ground up. A strong work ethic is something that was instilled in me since my adolescence, when our operation was very labor intensive”, said Connors. “The innovation and growth in farming the last 20 years has been staggering. Farming and production costs have increased substantially over the same time frame. Being able to adapt, invest, and innovate for the future has been paramount in the success of farming operations. It’s just something I’ve wanted to take part in my whole life,” Sam added.
Sam graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Business Administration with a Specialization in Management Operations. He has worked with growers in Washington, Oregon, and California in various capacities over the last decade with proven leadership in crop management, produce quality standards, market analysis, forecasting, procurement, and food processing operations.
“I love working with growers to supply our markets…without our growers creating a reliable, consistent, and exceptional grade of supply, our business would not survive,” said Connors.
Connors will oversee the Yakima valley for Apple, Pear, Peach’s, and Apricots, as well as Lynden WA, Abbotsford BC, Willamette Valley, and certain areas in the Columbia basin for soft fruits. Soft fruits include Blueberry, Black Berry, Red Raspberry, and Tart Cherry.
“What I like about working in this industry is that I feel like I’m in my element because, in this business, you must be ready and willing to think quickly on your feet and make sound decisions not just for the company, but for the grower as well. It’s really a multi-faceted role, which I love. And working for a grower-owned co-op really resonates with me. Being surrounded by growers who share the same values and principles as myself, makes it easy accomplish the daily grind. It’s something that puts a smile on my face every morning,” Sam said.
Sam explained, “As a Tree Top field rep, I’m up early before the roosters’ crow, meeting someone in the field, checking the bloom and quality, and forecasting the scale of harvest or learning about what our growers and pack houses needs are. I typically split my time about 50% in the field and 50% at our headquarters. I work a lot with our logistics and planning departments. It’s very important we have the right product, at the right place, at the right time. Growers have a really tough job. As field reps, we are here to make sure we keep growers in the “know” about our orchard run programs. Our needs are dynamic and constantly changing. Keeping growers informed of what programs exist and what parameters we need really helps them look at all their orchard blocks and identify where the dollars make the most sense.”
We all have a critical part of the farm to table process and Sam doesn’t take this role for granted. “The supply chain starts with us. I take pride in making sure we procure raw commodities that exceed our quality standards. Food safety is also a top priority for us as field reps. It’s our job to ensure that we send our plants fruit that is safe to be produced to feed our children. We make sure our growers adhere to the highest food safety standards in the industry,” said Connors.