Supply Chain Now Episode 454
“Growers and shippers are trying to get the consumer to buy with their eyes, but we also have to make sure that there’s a nice enough balance that they’re going to take that piece of fruit home, eat it, enjoy it, and come back to buy more product.”
Michael Chavez, Vice President of Sales and Operations at Golden Star Citrus Inc.
There’s been a lot of disruption within the produce and supply chain industry (from COVUD-19), but our people have really stepped up during the pandemic. Our people are showing up every day to make us successful.”
Patrick Kelly is the Director of Innovation at the International Pineapple Organization
While everyone is familiar with the produce supply chain on a personal level, the sophistication and level of detail that have to be managed before the point of sale are mind-boggling. Issues such as food safety, ripening, and perishability require levels of strategy and investment not typically seen in a manufacturing supply chain.
Patrick Kelly is the Director of Innovation at the International Pineapple Organization and Michael Chavez is the Vice President of Sales and Operations at Golden Star Citrus Inc. They both have long careers in the produce industry that include time with large recognizable brands and in small, family-owned companies.
In this conversation, Patrick and Michael tell Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton about:
· The varietal and chemical complexity of the common fruits and vegetables we eat every day and all year round
· The evolution, innovation, and technology involved in produce traceability, from the consumer all the way back to the grower, grove, and potentially even the specific tree the fruit grew on
· What might be next for the produce industry, including an Amazon-inspired direct-to-consumer model
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:00:28):
Hey, good afternoon, Scott Luton, Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now welcome back to today’s show Greg. We have got a great follow up episode two. When we, that we published with a great friend of the show just a couple of weeks ago. Are you ready? I’m ready. I love talking about sweet honey. Sweet citrus man. So yeah, I’m I’m ready. Let’s do this. Well. Today’s show continues as a little mini series. We’re doing all about the produce supply chain and we’ve got two incredible leaders in that space. So I bet our audience is going to learn something new about what citrus supply chain, the produce industry, you name it because we got two pros in us. Stay tuned. We’re working hard to increase your supply chain. Accu. We’re coming to that in just a moment, but Hey, a quick programming it. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to check us out wherever you get your podcasts from and subscribe. So you won’t miss great shows. Just like this one. We’ve got two outstanding guests. All right. So Greg, we ready to introduce our featured guests here today? Yeah, let’s do it. You want me to do it? I’ll do it.
Scott Luton (00:01:38):
Well, we’ve got a trailblazer. So our first guest we want to introduce is Patrick Kelly host of the, the industry podcast. Patrick, how you doing? Hey guys. Awesome. Doing fantastic as always. Good to have you, man. We love what you do. We love the passion that you do at with, and I can, I can watch, uh, uh, with your, your Apple video episodes. I mean, it there’s something captivating about it. Uh, and, and you also always offer a different spin, you know, from, from either a scientific or a technical standpoint or you name it, but love what you do and love to have you hear on supply chain now, but you brought a special guest with you. Yeah, I did. So along with Patrick, we have Michael Chavez, vice president at Goldstar citrus. How you doing Mike? All good. Uh, the good old golden star is just shining over here. So glad to be on with you gentlemen again. Yeah. Awesome. Love that. So I don’t know if everybody knows the history, but we have been on the produce podcast, the produce podcasts kind of like the Ohio state university. So we’ve actually met sort of right Patrick and Michael before it was a great discussion, by the way, listen up. We got some really cool insights there and you can check out Patrick, before we dive into the episode here today, where can folks find that podcast and all of your episodes? Yeah,
Patrick Kelly (00:03:06):
I go straight to the produce industry podcast.com and go to the episodes page. You can check out all the episodes there as well. We’re on anchor, Spotify and Apple, where you can find all your podcasts.
Scott Luton (00:03:20):
All right. Perfect. All right. So with no further ado, let’s jump right in. And before we get into industry and work and, and the hard stuff let’s get to know both of y’all a little bit better and introduce you to our audiences. So let’s start with you Patrick. So tell us, tell us where you’re from and give us a goods on your upbringing a little bit.
Patrick Kelly (00:03:37):
Yeah, for sure. So I’m from orange, California. I was born and raised in orange, California, grew up in San Diego. Dad had a little half-acre acre of some avocados, a lemon tree and some kumquats. And you know, that really got us started in the produce industry. My dad was always involved with retail, uh, produce supply chain, uh, the juice industry as well. So as a young kid, I always really fathered my father followed my father’s footsteps. I’ve got pictures of me as a young kid and these lemon trees. I’ve got pictures of me with my dad’s suitcase. Right. I got the tie on, I got a cap on walking around and dat shoes, you know, and I always thought I was going to be part of this business environment. I never thought I was going to be involved in produce as a young kid. Dad was always in the fields and on the horizon, as I say, he was always making deals with growers, making a fruit for processing, for juice.
Patrick Kelly (00:04:29):
And, you know, I really kicked off my career when I moved back out to California. Um, I would say when I was around 18 to 20 years old, about 2005, uh, started working for a Laboo subsidiary company. Laboo citrus, which was a longstanding citrus packing house and grower in the central Valley. Over 80 years in business, um, started working with them really from the field level, as a manager in training, worked my way all the way up from being on the pack line, but, you know, spraying pesticides in the fields, driving the forklifts, uh, really got a taste of it. And then in 2010, I had this real urge to start my own business. Uh, my dad and I, and my dad being a baby boomer, myself being a millennial, we had that kind of clash of the cultures. And so I kinda moved on and started my own business in 2010.
Scott Luton (00:05:15):
All right, hang on, hang on, Patrick. I got, I got to interject here. I got to interject because when you describe that clash of cultures or class of generations, I think we’ve all experienced that. Is there one thing, one tactical or simple thing that you and your dad had a different view on in the business?
Patrick Kelly (00:05:32):
You know, actually it was our business mannerisms 100%. I mean, it was how we conducted ourselves in the industry. He was night and I was day and it was just like, some people love dealing with me. Some people love dealing with him, uh, but at the end of the day, uh, ready, Mike’s gonna laugh at this. Like he was the president. So he was the title. And that’s why you don’t want all stair to this title, but he was the one in charge, you know, pulling the strings. And at that point, um, I felt that I could make my own paid my own way and do my own things. And I, and I did, and we did it successfully, uh, for, you know, a few years, uh, until I went to work for a corporate, uh, job, which we’ve talked about in the past a publicly traded company and the three PL world ch Robinson, um, did a stint with them for a few years. Um, and then, yeah, I’ve always been involved in, you know, entrepreneurship, uh, creating new businesses. And then today I own my own consulting company, um, that I do different consulting for, for different firms, different organizations in the produce and supply chain industry now, uh, which has the podcast and many other, other things underneath that. Alright,
Scott Luton (00:06:35):
So Greg, I’m going to let you unpack that journey, which Patrick does a great job of making it succinct. In a nutshell, we’re gonna unpack that a little bit. So before I switch over to Mike, Patrick, give me one other, I can envision that ha I think he called it a half acre plot of land with avocados that single lemon tree, which I love and the come quartz. What else really sticks out? You know, when you were a kid or as you’re coming of age, is there one of the things that you really love to do with either with your father or related to the produce industry that you’re so passionate?
Patrick Kelly (00:07:09):
You know, what’s funny is, and I talk about this with my brothers, as well as my mom was always a stay at home mom. But when I remember when I was a kid, like, like I say, toddler, I remember my mom used to work at this fresh produce stand. Uh, I don’t remember the name and my, my mom remembers as we’ve talked about it, but I remember going down to the fresh produce stand and getting lemonade. You remember those icy lemonades used to get when we were kids, they don’t do them like they did when we were kids. Like they got more preservatives in them now. Um, but I do remember always going down there and I remember my mom working part time there. And I just remember seeing all the fresh produce and seeing these pop up shops and I loved it. And then being with my dad, I remember if you’ve ever been to a juice plant, you know, the disgusting rotting, smell of oranges at a juice plant.
Patrick Kelly (00:07:58):
Mike knows it, listen, trust me, if you’ve smelled, it it’s just fermented fruit. But I smelled that as a kid. And I remember even when my dad would bring home orange juice, I’d be like, Oh, here we go again. Right. So it just, it was always in my head, my dad was always bringing home samples, always bringing home these things. And it was like, I want to do this. And leading into this day, Mike, um, my kids had been to Michael’s packing house probably over six dozen times, both of my kids. And to this day, they know who Mike [inaudible], he’s the guy with the citrus packing house. My kids know to this day what dad does. And I think that they’re going to be inspired to work in this industry, um, if they choose to as well.
Scott Luton (00:08:39):
I love that. All right. So my, one of the things you mentioned talking about that family connection, we interviewed a diplomat from Canada. She’s the console general of Canada in Atlanta. She’s transitioning to a new role by the time this probably out, but console general theater. And one of her favorite memories as a kid was her father taking her through the produce section and asking her if she knew where this comes from or where this comes from. And it was just a, a, a very visual moment and very vivid part of that interview. But we’ll, I’ll make these connections and, and, and fruit and produce, produce the fruit and vegetables. There’s such a story to tell behind every single variety, every single type. And, uh, that’s what I love about these conversations we have with both of y’all. So, all right, so Mike, you’re not getting out of this, uh, as we get to know you better and share you with our audience. So tell us, Mike, before we start getting into your professional journey and the business side, you know, where did you grow up? Where are you from and give us same thing that Patrick shared, give us the goods on your upbringing a little bit.
Michael Chavez (00:09:42):
Gotcha. Um, yeah, thanks for having me on guys. Glad to be on, um, started my journey in Cutler, rosy little town here in the central Valley, a lot of farming, a lot of agriculture, uh, so grew up with, uh, my family being citrus growers. So, you know, first job was, you know, out there in the, in the fields, checking water lines, wrapping trees on a, on a parcel of land. We still have, um, with, uh, you know, wraps and all that good stuff for new planning. So very much like Patrick’s upbringing, you know, grew up in a rural area, you know, started working young, of course, saw dad, you know, running his packing house and his packing operation as well as the farming side. So, uh, started on the farming side in the field and then graduated to the packing house. That was a big deal at about 13.
Michael Chavez (00:10:29):
I got to go into the packing house. So that was, that was nice. And then, uh, went off to a Fresno state for college and, uh, you know, I know Patrick’s or a bulldog alumni or both very proud bulldog alumni, a lot of ag, a lot of ag support out of that school. I mean, it’s a great, great, uh, great institution and then worked for a buying company, uh, in Fresno for two and a half years. So that, uh, that was a big experience for me coming from a small family grower packer to a, uh, you know, a very big, uh, I think they were number one or number two procurement size office, you know, throughout the United States. So it was a big, it was a big shift for me, and it was a lot, a lot of learning, uh, learning quick. So that was interesting.
Scott Luton (00:11:16):
Alright. So before we toss over to Greg and we dive a little deeper on the professional side, let’s back up a minute, cause you were talking about graduating to the packing house and that was a big deal. What, why was it such a big deal,
Michael Chavez (00:11:28):
Big deal. I mean, you’re out in the field, you know, there’s a, you gotta go down the road. Luckily we were about three miles from our home. So if we had to use the restroom or go grab a snack, like any 11 or 12 year old, you know, we could go and see what mom had going in the kitchen. But, uh, yeah, it was, it was tough. You’re in the, you’re in the heat, you know, the Valley here a lot of days at a hundred degrees. I mean, you are working, you know, in some pretty, uh, pretty hot weather. You try and start early and then you gotta to get done by a certain, you know, once we hit a tamp, a certain temperature trigger, but, uh, yeah, going into the packing house, uh, it took some time I had to work two summers out in the fields. You know, dad wanted me to be out there. And when I got to go into the packing house or at least in a building, in a facility and you know, it was kind of a promotion, I guess I would say to me, at least in my eyes at that time
Scott Luton (00:12:17):
You went from grunt to executive,
Michael Chavez (00:12:20):
Scott Luton (00:12:22):
Executive. Great. All right. Well, one final question I’ve got is, so y’all both went to and attended the home of the Bulldogs, right? Fresno state. Um, is that where y’all met initially? No. Okay. All right. Well then what’s, so what’s one of your favorite memories of, of attending Fresno state? What, what’s something that’s really unique about the school, the campus, the tradition, what would that be? And Mike or Patrick, whoever wants to go first. Yeah, sure.
Patrick Kelly (00:12:50):
You know, one of the things for me is I studied for my undergrad and my MBA there and, uh, they really merged the international programs together. So I did part of my, uh, master’s program at Hong Kong Baptist university studied international business over there with Tom burns and a select group of people like with the executive masters in business, uh, association degree. And that was one thing that really opened my eyes on the first trip out of the country, besides Canada and Mexico, uh, was me going and living in China for six, seven weeks and doing schooling. And I’ll tell you what it opened my eyes. I told myself when I left China in 2012, I will never go back to China again. And now it’s 2020. Um, if I was to show you my passport, I probably had been to China at least six or seven times since 2012. And even Mike knows since then, it’s just opened me up so much to the global economy. And Fresno state really did that for me.
Scott Luton (00:13:46):
Mm awesome. Man, that is great testimony. I thought I immediately went to Jerry Tarkanian and, and how that led to basketball legend went to Fresno state after UNLB right. I was thinking football cause they have a hell of a,
Michael Chavez (00:14:00):
I was going to go really simple. Patrick went really high end on it. I was going to say the football games were the most memorable. That’s what I remember the most.
Scott Luton (00:14:10):
I mean, that’s as valuable as anything else really. Um, because you guys stomped the guts out of some high brow teams, so it’s good to have those kind of memories. I agreed. Well, right, great. You gotta, you know, kind of balanced
Patrick Kelly (00:14:25):
My entire bulldog, uh, season to our career, I would say. But you know, I also have Natalie hanging out with the wrong people. Well, no, my son went Messiah. I started college late. I took me like 12 years to get through college, but I had my son when I was going to Fresno state. I had just different priorities at the time. And, and things like that. I was trying, I listened, I was hustling making money and trying to support a family as a, as a 2025, 26 year old. Wow. Alright.
Greg White (00:14:52):
So Greg, let’s, let’s stop more into the business stuff. Yeah. So it’s interesting that both of you have the kind of family business story, but I’d love to start with Michael and, you know, prior to what you’re doing now, let’s say after the last football game at Fresno state, give us a little bit of an idea of, of how your, you know, your professional journey to at it may even be at the family business, but at least until you got into this position as vice president,
Michael Chavez (00:15:21):
Uh, it was a, it was a big ship kind of, so to speak after, you know, doing the tailgates and the party ended and that arena, um, you know, it was a big shock for me. I went to work, uh, for the Kroger company and their buying office. And I mean, you’re dealing with the biggest players in every item, whether it’s head lettuce, oranges. I only knew oranges, you know, stone for either down that produce aisle. You know, I still think of things this way. I see labels where I can tie them to either representatives, Hey, that’s my buddy, Jeremy, Hey, that’s the dentist that’s so, and so, you know, you see this label, even if it’s cutie label, Oh, that’s uncle Barney. I like to call him, you know, but, uh, you know, you see these labels and you build these relationships. And I think that’s a big part of, you know, my learning curve there during the procurement years, I spent two and a half years there doing that, building these relationships, you know, with companies that were just, you can’t even fathom the volume of the level that they’re operating at and then deciding to come back home to the family, the family business, and basically starting from scratch, you know, you try and learn what, uh, what the big guys do.
Michael Chavez (00:16:25):
Uh, hopefully, you know, grasp the good as well as the bad too. You can avoid any pitfalls. And, um, you know, that was in 2012 when I came back with, uh, with golden star and it’s been an interesting ride, you know, I’ve had to operate not only as a sales, uh, sales and marketing representative, but as a owner operator in many ways, you know, and that entails a lot of different, uh, skill sets and knowledge. So it’s a, it’s a learning curve every day. You know, you gotta deal with growers who are our backbone of, you know, our industry. That’s where the whole process starts, you know, to, uh, your facility, your, uh, your, uh, employees, uh, trucking companies, retail outlets, wholesalers, you know, all, uh, all verticals of, uh, of the supply chain. So that’s kind of been my journey, um, to date. And it’s been, it’s been a fun one. It’s been a really fun, a fun ride so far. And I look forward to hopefully many more years of this, but, um, it’s an interesting, uh, interesting world that we operate in with the produce supply chain.
Greg White (00:17:25):
So I’m interested since you went to Kroger first, is that an intentional, was that an intentional thing? I mean, does your family make you work somewhere else before you worked for the company? Or did you decide to go there first and try to stay out of the family business? Did you do it the opposite of the way Patrick did it?
Michael Chavez (00:17:42):
You know, it was, I never got nudged one way or the other, my parents were always very supportive. If I wanted to be a doctor, they were going to be there for me, if wanted to be, you know, anything, any other profession, they were all for that, um, definitely was not kind of a requirement to kind of circle back to the family company. So it wasn’t anything along those lines. And to be perfectly honest with you guys, my manager that hired me full time, uh, when I went in for the internship interviews for Kroger to be an inspector for their produce department or their pretty so buying office, I never heard of Kroger in my life. So I had no
Greg White (00:18:15):
Right. Cause it’s, it’s what Ralph’s or, um, is it Ralph’s in your part of
Michael Chavez (00:18:21):
California? Yeah, they’ve got Ralph’s down in Southern California and like the nearest Ralph’s to me is probably, I don’t know, two to three hours away, something like that, but yeah, it’s not a household name out here in the central Valley. We’ve got a couple other retailers that we know, and that is it. So Kroger was completely foreign.
Greg White (00:18:39):
That’s amazing. You know, it’s, it’s interesting because I come from the Midwest and Dylan’s was our local chain and then Kroger, like they have so many companies, they bought them and now the stores don’t, I don’t think the new stores even say Dylan’s anymore. They’re Kroger branded stores. And then I moved here to the South and it, they are Kroger. The stores are Kroger, I think, East of the Mississippi Kroger’s we like to add it, gotta go to the Kroger’s that’s right. So, um, well, that’s interesting. So, so what, what prompted you to come to the, you know, come to golden star after Kroger? Kroger’s
Michael Chavez (00:19:20):
I actually had an opportunity. I was fishing around a little bit. My plan was to go to work for another citrus company before I circled back home. So I was actually looking for a couple of, or taken a few job, uh, job offers, you know, looking at everything, some required me to move out of the state, you know, just different options. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a Kroger, lifelong employee, and then, you know, really looking at our family and the dynamic. And this is I think, a big deal in the ag and the ag business is, you know, I was looking at my dad, you know, he was getting into this. He was in his mid sixties at the time. You know, my do I have time to spend time with dad and learn the lessons. If I go and spend three more years working for someone else, or do I bite the bullet, go back and let’s just try and figure it out. And I chose to do that. I actually was offered a promotion there with the Kroger office and just kind of blurted out. I think I’m going to go back home and give it a shot. So that’s what happened. And, you know, knock on wood. We’ve been, we’ve been, you know, marginally successful, I guess I would say here at golden star, but it’s been a, it’s been a learning, learning curve over these years.
Greg White (00:20:24):
You know, a lot of times in your career, there is a person or a role or an event that is kind of pivotal. And if you look back on, on your history prior to coming back, or maybe even in your, your recent hit or, or relatively distant past at golden star, is there a moment or an interaction or something like that, where you’ve said, you know, this is a life changing moment, or even in retrospect, you recognize now that it was,
Michael Chavez (00:20:54):
You know, I, I think that moment when I was offered that promotion was one of the, definitely one of those moments that pops up right away. I was really unclear what direction I wanted to head in. I really liked rogue. I loved working for them. They are a first class operation all the way. I really liked it there. Um, I really liked the idea of going and trying my hand in sales. So I was really torn at that time. And the last option that was kind of, that was really stuck in my head was coming back with golden star. So I don’t know what prompted me at that point. I couldn’t tell you to this day. I just know I was sitting there with my manager and he’s talking about these, you know, this position that they’re going to develop with me. And I mean, literally just blurted it out.
Michael Chavez (00:21:31):
Like, I think I’m going back home to go and work for the family operation. So I, I don’t, I, I still couldn’t tell you, but I think my head was just, you know, kind of, I was very, I was at a, I was at a fork in the road in a couple of ways. And, um, yeah, I don’t regret the decision. I think it was the right decision. And I think overall it’s been, it’s been a great ride so far. I don’t know if I would have took another path, how it would’ve worked out, but that’s definitely one of the moments that I would say, you know, kind of the light bulb came on and it was clear. That’s what I needed to do.
Greg White (00:22:01):
Yeah. You can’t say why you just knew.
Michael Chavez (00:22:03):
Yeah, it was, I mean, truly a gut feeling. So I can’t tell you exactly what prompted me for that, but I definitely don’t regret the decision.
Greg White (00:22:12):
It’s always interesting to see how that that’s, by the way, that’s a really honest answer, frankly. I’m glad that you said it that way, because I think so often people are looking for meaning in everything or, or they go back and try and analyze it somehow. You just knew what the right answer was and, and moved on. And I think there’s a lot of power in that too. Um, all right. So Patrick, your history is a little bit different, right? I mean, uh, tell us a little bit, and you get, you did share a little bit about your career up, up to this point. Love to understand how you got to, you know, the epiphanal moment, if you will, that said, I need to do this thing. Um, and maybe some of those pivotal moments that might have driven you this direction, other than, you know, don’t share the big blow out that you and dad had or whatever exactly. There, there might’ve been one of those, but, um, you know, only one that’s pretty good. Okay. You’re right. You’re right. It wasn’t more than one, but yeah.
Patrick Kelly (00:23:13):
You know, it’s funny because when I went to get a degree, my family didn’t tell me to get a degree. I’m the only one in my family to have a degree. Um, and I’m very proud of it because we were, I worked very hard, um, to build my education. And, um, I decided to get an entrepreneurship degree. Um, all my, you know, my dad’s friends and mentors were all, you got to go to Fresno state and get an ag science degree, and this is what you gotta do. And trust me, Mike’s got the degree. Everybody talks about it’s at Cal poly, it’s at Fresno state. And I started to take a different route. I took the entrepreneurship in my undergrad and then focused on international business and executive leadership in my master’s. Now you’re probably thinking, okay, but where’s the pivotal moment. So as I’m working for my dad and I’m starting to learn about entrepreneurship, and I started learning about the PNL, the cashflow statements, operational funds, all of these different things.
Patrick Kelly (00:24:05):
Well, my mind starts to ask questions of, Hey, how do we run this? What do we do in this situation? And dads, all, all response was do what I tell you to do. Let me worry about these things. You are my fruit buyer. You do this, this is your job. You let me handle these things. So as my curiosity kept springing, I started going, well, how much money are we making per load? How much our processing fees, how much is our freight rates? How much are all these things? Well, as I started getting more curious, dad started just giving me more things to do until it got to a point where I saw myself being kept. So even within my own organization, I knew I was never going to be president of my family’s company. I knew that my brothers who also worked there previously to me, which were already gone at the time, they were never going to be as well.
Patrick Kelly (00:24:54):
And it came to me really sudden. Um, my dad was actually in Las Vegas and I remember the day it happened. I mean, he was in Las Vegas and I was in Visalia. And, um, you know, I made the call to him and he came home right away. I gave him my two weeks notice. There was a lot of other, I would say, uh, arguments in that. Um, but yeah, I gave him a two week notice, uh, finished out the two weeks. And then I would say three weeks later, I started my first business, uh, with a couple of partners in the central Valley. And that was the pivotal moment when I made that decision. And my partners said, all right, if you want to manage the P and L you want to manage this, here you go. It’s your start managing it. And then that’s where I knew that I couldn’t depend on anybody else to give me a paycheck anymore.
Patrick Kelly (00:25:40):
That I had to really fight and hustle every day for whether I’m consulting for someone or whether I am having them as a vendor or a customer. Like I just realized that it was all about that entrepreneurship mentality. I’m working your butt off in that, you know, the four hour work week, but providing value. And that’s when it hit me. It was about December of 2009. And I was just like, you know, I’m, I’m ready to take this on for myself. And, and I would say since 2009, I’ve only worked for one person since then over that 11 years for two and a half years. Um, and kinda just been creating my own path. And as my wife said, she’s like, uh, everywhere you go, you leave a trail. And I’m like, all right, all right, I get that, you know? Alright. But that’s kind of that pivotal moment was me finally realizing I had to run my own P and L
Scott Luton (00:26:26):
Hey, if I can interject with a quick question. So you and your father, and I don’t want to pry, but how does that relationship stand today? Is he proud of everything you’ve gone on to do? Yeah,
Patrick Kelly (00:26:37):
My dad’s very proud of me as always. My dad is a, is an immigrant, a very worker, as we know, he lives the American dream. I’m very proud of him. Um, but I also think there’s a little bit of competition between our Kelly family as always, uh, between me, my brothers, my dad, even my mom. I think that it’s still there. So yes, I think my family is very proud of me. They’ve told me they’re very proud of me, but I definitely think we could definitely put the boxing gloves on and, and, uh, uh, go for a round or two. And Mike knows that cause he golfs with my family still to this day,
Greg White (00:27:09):
Never boxed with an Irishman. That’s a life lesson that everyone needs to learn
Patrick Kelly (00:27:14):
Or two or two or three of them were all
Greg White (00:27:16):
Canadian Irish. So welcome. Welcome to the club. Um, so, uh, interesting, you know, interesting study that, and you know, the immediately, when I heard that you were being capped, a phrase came to mind only in his own village is a prophet without honor, right? I mean, it’s really hard to get past being the kid who ran his trike and dented the dented mom’s car. It’s true to become the runner of the family. And it’s fascinating to see, I think maybe, you know, we haven’t learned all the details, but maybe a juxtaposition of the Kelly family versus the Chavez family and, and understand that, you know, the different families have different dynamics. Some of them can get past that. And some of them can’t, I mean, there’s always an aspect of that with you right up until the point that your parents become your children. So, um, at that point, the dynamic changes pretty, pretty dramatically, but that, I mean, so to me, that’s your epiphanal moment if you, if you think about it from, from that standpoint, but is there anything or anyone else who had an influence on you that helped affirm that decision Patrick needs to do his own thing or you’re able to do it or anything like that?
Patrick Kelly (00:28:37):
Yeah. You know, I’m going to have to say it was my wife. Um, I’ve been, yeah,
Greg White (00:28:41):
My wife, since we were 17 years old. So we’ve been together
Patrick Kelly (00:28:44):
Almost 20 years now, married for 12. And you know, she’s always been in my corner and, you know, as we all know, our wives are our significant others like to tell us how it really is. And for a long time she was telling me, Hey, you know, there’s an issue that you’re not seeing here. And so when I decided and said, Hey, you know, I’m going to start my own business. My wife didn’t say, congratulations. She said, it’s about time. Like I have been telling you, get out of that situation. So, um, you know, my wife’s always been in the corner. She she’s the heart and soul of me and my business. And without her, I would not be anywhere, anywhere where I am today without her.
Greg White (00:29:24):
Alright. Are we ready to dive into the produce supply chain? Um, alright so, so every, as we all know, every supply chain is so different and it’s really tough to generalize, but I think to set the table for our listeners that maybe they didn’t the last pot,
Scott Luton (00:29:42):
Last podcast episode of it, they haven’t listened to any of Patrick’s good stuff. Let’s just set the table with a generalized, uh, food or produce supply chain. And y’all correct. Me please experts correct me where I’ve got this wrong. Okay. Uh, so first off sourcing raw materials, moving then into production, moving then into processing and packaging, moving into storage, then wholesale distribution, which I know we’ve talked a good bit about in the last episode. And then retail distribution to consumers is, is at a high level. Are those the major nodes of that supply chain?
Patrick Kelly (00:30:21):
For sure, but ready for this guys. Now I’m going to interject here because I did have someone reach out to me about our last podcast. And they said, you missed a step within the supply chain. And I said, wait a minute, are you kidding me? And they said, where does your food safety supply chain start? They said, we listened to everything, but where do you do start your reporting in this process? Whether it’s to the USDA, the CDF she’s like, where is this process started? And they said, that’s where I’m curious about the, so everything in the supply chain was great, but nothing was about traceability and sustainability and recall. And so I did have to bring that up that in that supply chain, we do report and process all these pieces of fruit. And then we could talk about that at a later day, but yes, we track all of this fruit. We talked a little bit about it with the codes on the bins, but that goes into a computer system. Mike knows this, and then that gets reported to our overall numbers within produce. So
Scott Luton (00:31:22):
How far back does it go? I mean, does it go all the way back to seed or clone or plant or amendment or fertilizer or, I mean, does it include all of that?
Michael Chavez (00:31:33):
It’ll, it’ll go all the way back, uh, to the, uh, Grove. So the grower, so the field that the fruit came from, um, I have seen technology where they can get it back to the tree. Allegedly. I don’t know if it’s a practical answer, but I think that’s the direction we are heading in. So it’s very interesting with technology and, you know, our traceability in blockchain, you know, where we’re heading as an industry and Scott, you did a great job hitting the supply chain in, in, uh, you know, just kind of hitting all the, all the points. And I was glad Patrick brought that up cause we didn’t spend, I don’t think we spend any time really talking about food safety on our last top, but, um, yeah, Scott, that’s a great intro. You hit the nail on the head of, uh, you know, in general, that is exactly what we’re doing. That’s a process.
Scott Luton (00:32:21):
I shamelessly stole it from a Google search as I was prepping for this episode. So Yara you the notes from the last episode.
Michael Chavez (00:32:30):
That’s what I thought I was. I would have bet the farm on. Yeah.
Scott Luton (00:32:33):
Hey y’all know how, how entrepreneurs we look for some shortcuts and, and really I wanted to just to serve it, have that serve
Greg White (00:32:40):
As the basis for the, for the next part of our discussion. Uh, because Greg, we’re going to dive into some of the things that might surprise our listeners, right? Yeah. And I think it’s important to understand that the dynamics of this industry, not only around food safety, but around perishability because so many of our, so many of our audience they’re in manufacturing of hard goods and that thing effectively lasts forever, especially when you compare it to an orange or a lemon or lime or whatever. Perishability. And, and as we talked about on your show, Patrick, the process of ripening and the process of preparing, and I don’t know what to say, darling, up the product for free, right. For the shelf. Um, that’s a uniqueness. Um, and probably something that people don’t really know a whole lot about either. But so let’s, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about some of those things in citrus, particularly that, that are going to surprise some of our listeners. So who wants to surprise them first to me? Your favorite? Yeah.
Michael Chavez (00:33:48):
Okay. You caught me with the, with the, you know, surprising thing. They know we went through the canvas of the supply chain, but oranges are not always orange. So I think that was one thing I know on the last conversation we had guys was, well, what do you mean? We will pick them green or, you know, somewhat colored with a little bit orange, maybe there’s 25, 35, 40% color of actual natural orange, but we have to treat the oranges when they come in. Cause they will come in green, you know, about as green as your grass. Sometimes we put them in sweat rooms. So there’s special rooms where we control the atmosphere and you made a D or the temperature and humidity. So we control the atmosphere and then we will put a ethylene in those rooms. So that’s very similar to what they do for bananas, a ripening avocados. I know on the stone fruit side, they do this with nectarines and peaches, but ethylene the natural compounds. So there’s no, uh, nothing funky. It’s not, you know, pesticide like most people right away. You say anything, any kind of, any kind of application, they figure it’s chemical, uh, at the liens, all natural. And we actually turned the pigmentation from a green, you know, green shade, hopefully to a nice bright orange shade. So
Greg White (00:35:00):
The stone fruit Mike, I was going to say, explain that for our audience. Yeah.
Michael Chavez (00:35:06):
A stone fruits, anything that’s got a, a stone in the middle. So a nice pit in the middle of it. So I’m not a stone fruit subject matter expert. So if I offend anyone in that line of work, I apologize.
Greg White (00:35:18):
No, I, I, I think it’s good for our audience to know that because I just happened to, I don’t even remember if it was a Google search, but I just happened to have seen an article about stone fruit, what they called stone fruit at the time. So that’s the only reason I know the difference, but it makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it? That big pit, a peach or pear,
Michael Chavez (00:35:38):
Greg White (00:35:41):
And believe me, if you’ve ever been into one, it feels like you’ve been into a store. Is there anything beyond that? I mean the sweat room and, and that sort of thing. What else jumps out at you that people probably don’t know about?
Patrick Kelly (00:35:53):
Well, one thing that’s really cool and that our overseas partners probably know more about, than the consumers here in America and that there are multiple varieties of a navel orange. Um, and when I mean that we can start off with a couple and Mike could probably say a couple more than I am, but we can start off and say, we, there are a Fukumoto, there is a Washington, there is a Barnesville. Mike, you want to name three?
Michael Chavez (00:36:18):
Ooh, Atwood Powell. Uh, what’s a Fisher is Tim T I Thompson improved. There’s there’s, there’s a good chunk.
Greg White (00:36:26):
All about the TEI orange. So how do they, the, the names for the,
Patrick Kelly (00:36:32):
These types of fruit are the names tied to a certain geographic region like, like French wine is it’s all depending. It could be depending on the grower, right? What the name of the grower was, right. It could be Washington or Fisher. Um, there could be different varieties that are put in and how they’re grown. Um, it’s really interesting that, you know, a Naval orange, you know, of a Washington will come off at a different part of the season than a Fuko where it would, or a back orange would. And then some of these oranges, like we know our Korean counterparts, they want that Barnes field Naval. Um, that’s a typical Naval that comes off between, I would say February, March, April, and it’s believed to have really high bricks in it, really good sugar content in it. And so people try to actually, our consumers will try to say, we want to Barnesville Naval, Hey, is the Fukumoto, when’s the Fukumoto going to be out now in the industry.
Patrick Kelly (00:37:23):
We all get that. But the consumer, when they see it in the grocery store, it just says Naval on it. It’s not going to say Fukumoto. It’s not going to say Barnes field. It’s not going to say back, but the classifications, you know, that a back is elongated a little bit elongated more than a Washington would be more round. And then obviously there’s, when you look at those varieties, you start to know when a Washington, a Fukumoto, a back, um, all of these come off throughout the season and you’re constantly knowing, well, one, it’s just a Naval orange, but there’s tons of varieties of Naval oranges,
Greg White (00:37:55):
And the, and the reason for having all these varieties. I know we talked about it on your show, but I’d love to have you guys share that with the audience. You know, that,
Patrick Kelly (00:38:03):
That’s a great question. And I don’t know if I can even answer that because I know that a lot of the industry we’re trying to get away from selling a specific piece of that Naval fruit. Like we now tell overseas, Hey, it’s high Brix fruit, but it’s not see or feel, but we’re like, no, it’s not a Barnesville. So we’re getting away from selling that. Mike, what is your comment on that?
Michael Chavez (00:38:26):
Um, you know, what, it’s back to the names is tied to the rootstock. So when they came up with these roots socks, they, um, the, um, you know, assign them names and then really throughout the year, there’s a schedule or a sequence of these varieties. So it goes a layer deeper where, you know, the Fukumoto that Patrick mentioned is one of the earlier varieties that’ll come off in October, November, and then Washington’s, won’t start until December, January. And then you’ll go into the late season, which is probably, you know, April, may and June where you’re going to have late lanes and barn filled and specific varieties. So there’s a sequence that we worked through the season, um, based on maturity flavor profile, you know, readiness or rightness of the fruit. So there’s a lot to it. There’s definitely a science behind it. And, um, you know, kind of getting back to, you know, we oranges aren’t orange, we turn them orange on our side.
Michael Chavez (00:39:22):
It’s all based around, you know, not only the flavor experience like Patrick’s talking about with like the Barnesville being a, uh, a, uh, requested variety. Um, I don’t know if you, gentlemen, by the heirloom Naval that you see there, but those are like a Washington, uh, rootstock. That’s how, you know, over a hundred years old and that’s the whole sale on them is the flavor profile. Um, you know, you get that nice Naval, California, true signature Naval orange eating profile during certain times, certain times of the year. So it’s, it’s a toss up on, you know, how, how things are marketed and, you know, on our end, as a grower and a shipper, we’re trying to sell for the consumer to buy with their eyes. But we also have to make sure that there’s a nice enough balance that they’re going to take that piece of fruit home, eat it, enjoy it, and then come back to buy more product. That’s our bread and butter is repeat sales on the retail side, which I learned with Kroger, as well as the shipper side. We want to make sure that they want to come back and buy that golden star, you know, signature flavor, a brand of orange is between, you know, our citrus season.
Scott Luton (00:40:30):
Hey, let me, um, so I want you all to define bricks, Greg, you had to write a thought there, cause I want to understand what that is, but one of my key takeaways, and this is gonna be an obvious one, but, um, um, I can be really slow sometimes from that first episode, one of my great key takeaways was y’all spoke both of y’all really emphasize how quality is so paramount and, and, and, and, you know, on its face, everyone can agree with that. But when you really start to think about, you know, consumers in stores, as they’re selecting fruit, I mean, they’re, perhaps that’s the most inspected thing of anything you buy in a grocery store. And it really, I really like how y’all brought that home because, uh, Michael, just as you shared there, it’s about that, that, uh, consumption experience and it’s, so it seems to be so unique for, for this industry, huh?
Michael Chavez (00:41:20):
Oh, absolutely. And you know, there’s a couple approaches and this is one of the things I felt like I learned, you know, right after college was, you know, going on the buying side, then hopping over to the sales side. You know, there’s two approaches here. It’s first to market, you know, where, okay. If we have a, if we have a deficit or, uh, of supply, let’s say with oranges, you know, of course there’s going to be a lot of demand. There’s, there’s plenty to go around. The problem that I see is if we start too early and there are, uh, there is a requirement, the California requirement for flavor, in order for us to even start our season, we have to meet a minimum quality, um, of bricks and sugar acid ratio kinda, uh, kind of algorithm in order to even start our season. And, you know, getting back to the, you know, the flavor profile. If you walk in, grab a four pound bag of oranges in late October and you take it home and it tastes more like a lemon than an orange, you’re probably not coming back to buy another bag the next week when you make your next trip. So it is, uh, you know, I liked what you said. It’s absolutely paramount that we, uh, we, uh, have a eating profile. That’s going to entice consumers for the repeat business,
Scott Luton (00:42:28):
Paramount with a P E a R maybe. Sorry guys. All right, Greg, let’s keep driving for dad jokes, man.
Michael Chavez (00:42:41):
Well, that’s, that’s even better than I think you guys saw on LinkedIn the other day, someone said, Hey, you know, Dracula’s favorite fruit is a neck like that one.
Scott Luton (00:42:51):
We can keep this up for awhile. No, please don’t
Michael Chavez (00:42:57):
Greg’s gets out enough, always ready to fight off already. He’s like, it’s been an hour getting out of
Scott Luton (00:43:04):
Well bricks. So just define what bricks is
Michael Chavez (00:43:08):
Brick. So bricks technically, and I’m thinking back to Fresno state, I remember taking a quality assurance class. Bricks is not technically sugar. Bricks is particles. I believe they get picked up and we correlate that to sugar content in the juice. So we’ll do tests on a refractometer, which is a little, some of them are little tools and some of them are actually pressed tools that you could use. And then Michael, you might have one really? Yeah. So you’ll take, you’ll squeeze the juice into the tiny little, uh, bop, you know, bowl. Um, and then we’ll measure your temperature of the internal Pope of the fruit. It will then also measure like a sugar acid ratio. You take that number and then you’re going to times that by your bricks and you’re going to get an actual sugar acid ratio. So then, like I said, you can then tell a consumer, Hey, the acid is here or below here. And a lot of times, like I said, in a lemon, you want to have acid less than, you know, 1.01 or so that way you’d have some really good lemons, not too tangy, but just good enough, you know, to make lemonade or things like that. So there’s a lot of different factors that come into that and customers request that also
Scott Luton (00:44:14):
Really. Oh yeah. You’ve got a lot smarter customers than I am. I can assure you that.
Michael Chavez (00:44:19):
Yeah. I can tell you Mike’s favorite thing to do and he’s going to laugh. Her now is making quality reports. Oh boy. Quality quality reporting. Oh, I love doing
Patrick Kelly (00:44:32):
Those. I hope none of my customers are watching this right now. I’m saying it with a smile.
Greg White (00:44:39):
Well, and Michael, well, you know, we wanted this segment to surprise listeners. I can’t guarantee that it surprises the listeners, but it’s sure surprised me. I mean, a refractometer is that, is that what you said? Yes. There, um, bricks, stone, fruit, um, all of these different flavor profiles and, and breeds. Um, so quick question on that are any of these relocated from other areas because it used to be there. It used to be, there was orange season, right? You only got oranges during a certain season. Did we relocate plants from South of the equator to North of the equator? Or did we, or did we breed plants to get them to blow a bloom to ripen throughout the year? Is that too much of a history question?
Patrick Kelly (00:45:34):
I think there’s both. I think there’s both. I mean, you’ve got greenhouses in Texas that are growing great for year round. That is actual Texas grapefruit being grown in greenhouses, and then you’ve got imports. So yeah, when Naples are gone or out of season in California, a hundred percent that we switched to the import season and start bringing in Naples from South Africa, uh, Australia, New Zealand, um, we start bringing in Mandarin from Spain, Morocco. Um, but no, I would say I don’t, there’s not a year round supply of California navels, right. Because of the seasonality, but there is a year round supply of navels, uh, through other organizations and companies and growers throughout the, uh,
Greg White (00:46:13):
The globe. And of course all these flavor profiles and things you’re talking about, that’s for consumed citrus, not juice because is, is it true that the juice is a blend of tell us the truth about juice?
Patrick Kelly (00:46:28):
Yeah. You know what I mean? Listen, I’ve worked in the juice industry a long time and you know, people could bite me or try to cut my head off by it. It all depends on the flavor profile and what they’re doing at the time, um, juice can be held sometimes up to three years in the drums, right. Like if there’s a freeze are, and if they, if the Naval is really deep bitter, then yeah. They’re going to take that and blend that with some Mandarin juice. Right. They’re going to, they can only blend up to so much right. Per the, uh, the laws. Right. I don’t know anymore. I’m not in that game as much as I used to be, but I believe it was like less than 10%. You were allowed to blend of different juices or any mix to be able to, you know, get that the bitter taste out of your mouth.
Patrick Kelly (00:47:06):
Right. So yeah, they do blend, um, a lot of Brazilian tankers come into Florida and Brazilian comes in. So they’ll blend with Florida. Uh, they’ll blend with California. I’ve sold California, citrus juice tankers to Florida bought Florida for California. So, so yeah. And it all depends on your customers though. I mean, if someone’s saying it’s a hundred percent for, to orange juice, I doubt they’re going to have a blend in there. If you’re selling to a school right. In the little juice boxes, you probably have a little bit more leniency and you can put tropical juice mix in there with orange juice. Right. There’s different levels of customers and different levels of packaging and what you can, what you can do. Right. Hence why quality is so good.
Greg White (00:47:45):
Um, so our audience is clear. What we are talking about is we’re talking about the fruit, you buy off the shelf at Kroger or Publix or wherever, right?
Michael Chavez (00:47:55):
Yeah. Fresh, fresh product. Yes. We’re talking about the fresh. Exactly. So the juice is completely different. Exactly.
Greg White (00:48:02):
Yeah. So, Michael, let’s talk a little bit about the traceability you alluded to before you actually use the word blockchain in regard to citrus. And I know when we were on Patrick show, we talked a little bit about that as well. So tell us a little bit about some of the innovations or evolutions in terms of tracking traceability in, in the industry.
Michael Chavez (00:48:27):
Yeah. Uh, our traceability plan here with golden stars, you know, any grower, any lot that we pick, we identify with a lock code that lock code once we run and, uh, size and wash and wax and do all the fun stuff we do with the oranges to get them in a box or a bag, you know, follows the fruit the whole way across. So if it was in a bin and ID is blocked the ABC one, two, three, when it goes into a carton or a bag into a, into a carton, you know, that sticker, that’s going to be on there. It’s going to have the date that we packed it and ran that through when it was packaged. And then that ABC one, two, three lot on it. So we’ll be able to trace it all the way through from there to the BOL.
Michael Chavez (00:49:08):
So the bill of lading, once it leaves our a facility, which, you know, the carrier takes over, uh, and then up until it’s received to our end customer, whether it’s a retail outlet or a wholesaler that ABC one, two, three lot is going to stick with that throughout the entire way. So, you know, uh, heaven forbid anything, you know, happen. And we have to do a recall, we’d be able to pull those lock codes where they were shipped to which customers and destination, and then issue a recall at that point. So we can pinpoint everything back to, you know, okay. It was that lot, which means it was this grower we’re going to have to investigate, you know, from start to finish, you know, what could have potentially happened here.
Greg White (00:49:51):
And that’s the predominant reason for the use of the blockchain, right. Is to be able to verify the handoffs and the original sourcing is that
Michael Chavez (00:50:00):
Absolutely. And I mean, within our, within our operation, I know every operation is a little different on their protocol. Um, some are definitely using a lot more technology. That’s more advanced. Um, there’s, I believe Patrick was talking to me about a company that follows products. That’s imported through cargo ships on a, on boats. And you can see in real time if I’m correct, um, where the product is, it’s which facility it’s at, if it’s on a truck, if it’s in a facility or anything, I think Patrick can speak a little more about that, but it was very impressive. The, uh, the, the, uh, blockchain technology that, uh, the company that he was talking to you about for it, very interesting stuff.
Greg White (00:50:46):
I just recall that when we were, when we did the previous show, you just spoke about blockchain. So matter of factly, and even in what I think most people would say, arguably are really sophisticated supply chain businesses. Blockchain is a much, much bigger deal. It seems like a heavier lift. And then the way you presented it, but it’s just such a necessity for the nature of your business, that how long have you been using block?
Michael Chavez (00:51:13):
Oh, we’ve started what two, three years ago. Um, and really before we just was always the food safety traceability. So that’s really where it kicked off. And we’ve been doing that for probably 12 years now. I think I was at Fresno state when I kicked that into a year here with golden star. But, um, I mean, I saw the writing on the wall back there and I go, you know what, we need to get on board with implementing this to a small degree and then really blow it out through the whole operation because it’s not going away. There’s no way it’s going to go anywhere. You know, if we want to stay in business, we got to adapt this into our, into our operation.
Greg White (00:51:46):
Next person that asked me, what is, what is, what do we use blockchain for? I’m sending them to you, Michael?
Michael Chavez (00:51:55):
Uh, I don’t know if I should think here or a change,
Greg White (00:51:58):
Right. It’s going to be, it’s going to be like quality reports. Uh, he sent me another one.
Michael Chavez (00:52:02):
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. All right. Let’s start from the beginning.
Greg White (00:52:07):
Patrick, you sound off.
Patrick Kelly (00:52:09):
Well, you know, what’s interesting is that back in 2010, 2012, I was like, I was a complete broker at the time. And in Michael knows this, and if our listeners don’t, but when you’re a broker, you got to use all the audits and protocols from the packing house. So that’s are buying and selling from. And you know, that was interesting to me. So as a broker, I remember my brother and I, we were sitting around one day and we were selling a processors and my brother and I said, we should develop our own recall protocol. And I remember, um, we were like, but why no one cares about a broker. They’re just going to go right to the, uh, the grower anyways, if something happened. But what we did was we created our own broker recall protocol, which the same thing with like co two emissions, if you can show your customer that you’re reducing co two emissions when delivering to them, if you’re reducing your carbon footprint, all these different things, then the customer is going to see that as an added value.
Patrick Kelly (00:53:00):
So to Mike’s point to the blockchain has really started getting big over the last few years, but the industry has done it in a different way, whether it was a Julian code, whether it was a lot number, a whatever it might be. Now, we just incorporate a lot more technology into this. So when that fruit goes through, the sizer gets tagged with a sticker, a PLU that’s running into the computer system, it’s then making charts for us. It’s making graphs for showing what loft they come from. That goes into our recall protocol that shows, okay, this went from a lot aid, a lot, being a lot C to customer XYZ. And we follow it through the entire supply chain, which has Mike always knows he’s got no ugly babies, right, Mike. And when those babies go out, right, and we get a, Hey we’re, we’re rejecting, right?
Patrick Kelly (00:53:44):
The biggest things we don’t want to hear in the produce industry is we’re rejecting a load. And that’s where we start. The process is going okay. Where did the coal chain get broken? Um, was there a break in the cold chain? Uh, what grower did that come? Did we spray on that one? Uh, did that have let’s check the defects of that Grove? Maybe there was clear rock. Maybe there was Brown rock. Maybe we had some issues when we were packing, but that’s realistically how it goes. So, um, that is seen as a lot of value in our industry, but more companies are making the technology, trace all this for you and making it a little bit easier. So you, as the grower don’t have to, but in the world of Mike and golden star citrus, like you said, he’s going to have to track this stuff since day one, just to have his USDA global gap audits and everything else to be a grower packer shipper in this industry.
Greg White (00:54:29):
Uh, we talked about day one, we talked about your early stage. We’ve talked about some of the developments that you’ve seen. I think the biggest development that we need to talk about and in terms of the industry is the one we have to go to, uh, I’m interested. And I think our audience is interested in how has COVID-19 and this seismic societal disruption, how has that impacted, um, operations, the industry as a whole, you know, production, transportation, any of that?
Patrick Kelly (00:55:02):
Oh, it’s crazy. And I’ll, I’ll talk first just because I talked to a lot of people on the podcast. So I get a lot of different views from, um, uh, wholesalers, grower, shippers, importers, um, and it’s affecting everybody differently. Uh, one thing I can tell you is some people, if you’ve listened to the podcast, they’re saying it’s the best it’s ever been. I mean, they’re sitting here saying it’s fantastic. Things are great. And then you got people on the other side of the saying, you know, they were so hit by it because they did have maybe have their eggs in one basket with food service or certain customers. And that’s what we’ve seen out there operations a hundred percent. I mean, labor’s having challenges is like, we’ve talked about in the previous episode, um, people are having challenges. I’m going to be visiting a food bank locally in Tampa here, and they’re working three days off or three days on two days off doing split schedules between their employees.
Patrick Kelly (00:55:55):
So yeah, there’s been a lot of disruptions within the produce and supply chain industry. But what I will tell you, Greg, uh, Scott, you guys know this, our frontline workers within the produce and supply chain industry have made this happen. So there’s been a lot of faults, but our people have really stepped up during this pandemic and made it a success for a lot of companies, whether your company is doing bad, our employees and our people are showing up every day to make us successful. And we appreciate that. Yeah. That’s a good point. I mean, is that Michael, have you, have you guys continued to plant and pick and harvest and cultivate through this whole thing?
Michael Chavez (00:56:33):
Yeah. One of the biggest things is, you know, with, uh, with COVID, um, you know, showing up and, you know, us trying to get used to a new normal, I think it’s been a big, uh, spotlight on our industry and those involved of how, uh, how resilient we are. It’s definitely been a challenge. And like Patrick mentioned, um, for some items, you know, we’re seeing a lot of movement, you can’t make enough of it. You can’t sell, sell fruit quick enough. You can’t make it fast enough. You know, there there’s no, uh, there’s no, uh, reservoir of supply at all at any, you know, supermarket or anywhere that’s selling fresh groceries. You know, and I think that really, uh, is focused in, on us, in the citrus world, uh, for the simple fact of, Hey, we want to get our immune systems as strong as possible right now.
Michael Chavez (00:57:20):
Well, let’s go grab some vitamin C you know, let’s get some oranges, let’s get some great fruit, let’s try and incorporate this into our diet. So I know we talked last time, you know, I’ve had some customers go to 300%, you know, above what we did, you know, the fiscal year prior. So it’s, it’s been absolutely insane. And, you know, with citrus and I know a few other items in the fruit and veggie department, very heavy to manual labor. So, you know, the, uh, the, uh, contract labor that we use out there to pick our oranges, you know, if you have a crew of 20, 25 pickers and one of them test positive for COVID, you lose all 25 of those figures. So you, uh, you quickly can backslide and, and, you know, that’s, it’s not easy. Labor has been a challenge within our industry, but you know, COVID is affected us in so many ways.
Michael Chavez (00:58:09):
You know, we don’t, we don’t actually, um, employ the, uh, directly employee, the manual labor pickers. We don’t directly employ the trucking companies. So you have all these hands in the middle that, you know, as soon as someone tests positive or their wife or family member somewhere they’re around, they’re immediately going to the quarantine. You’re losing them for 10 to 14 days. So it’s, it’s been a big shift, but, um, you know, like Patrick alluded to, you know, there’s been ups and downs. I think bottom line is, you know, everyone along the supply chain has done a great job of being resilient and tough. You know, I think we shown what a tough industry we are and you know, this a food supply chain, you know, has not cracked, you know, it it’s definitely bent, but it has not cracked. So I’m very proud to be part of that,
Patrick Kelly (00:58:56):
You know, and I, I have to interject Scott, I’m going to bring back, this is a previous episode of supply chain now that I watched probably a few months ago. Um, and I told this to Michael, this was so funny before we even met. I told this, this to Michael and Scott said, you know, do you realize that the pro’s and supply chain industry and correct me if I’m wrong, Scott has more money in volume than the, I believe is the sports industry. Do you remember you saying that Scott and you were saying that, that if you took all the money and what we’re doing this approach to supply chain industry, that it almost beats that. And I say that because this produce and supply chain industry, as, as much as, uh, Lamar sports, right? It’s like where we are compared to different organizations, different industries. And as we’ve seen all these other industries be so resilient and do the things they’ve done, that’s what we’re doing now. We’re being able to step up to the plate, be there for America. Like we always have be here for the globe. We’re feeding the globe right now. Right. And so those are things that I always think it’s so funny because as an industry, people don’t really understand how big the produce and supply chain industry really is.
Scott Luton (01:00:03):
Yeah. I think, I think what you’re referring to was, um, we found some statistics that said if supply chain was a sport, it would be third largest sport in the world near you guys, or something like that. I it’s funny. I had to dig deep for that. But yeah, I do recall that. I mean, yeah. I mean, it’s a substantial part of, we just talked to somebody just before we came on with you, that said supply chain is the business, right. I mean, if you think about it, that’s, you know, that’s maybe a broad, bold statement, but if you think about it, it doesn’t matter, Michael, if you’re growing oranges, if you can’t get them to anybody, no product, no program as our dear friend Dominick, uh, said, yeah, but you know, you’re right. And I really admire both of your passion, both Patrick and Michael, we share it with you that, um, despite all the technology that exists in global supply chain, these different sectors industry and despite all the gains and how we’re moving fast forward and accelerate and with change and advancement and continuous improvement, every innovation and in particular, still the people that make it happen from the, the produce fields to our factories and our warehouses, our fulfillment centers, especially in this day and age of e-commerce all these hardworking people that, that to your point, for the most part, they have not missed a beat.
Scott Luton (01:01:30):
I mean, yeah. We’ve had a plant shut down here and shut down here. As I looked at contained, some of these micro now breaks it’s going to happen. But to your, I completely agree with you. The people of our global supply chain has really protected the psyche of not just folks here in the States, but globally. And it’s really it’s, it’s, it’s, it has, um, I can’t say enough about it because I know all of y’all I’ve worked in factories, rubbed elbows with some of the hardest working people, the brightest people that solve problems day in and day out, and they don’t get any attention. And it’s such a shame. So I share y’alls passion for the workforce. And I know Greg does too, because you can’t level those folks enough supply chain is a thankless job. We’re all thankful for that for people that do that thankless job. Right.
Greg White (01:02:20):
Amen. You know, an old, an old, a wise man wise guy that I once worked with said, if you’re, if you’re overstocked, you’re in trouble and it’s your fault, if you’re out of stock, you’re in trouble and it’s your fault. And if something happens to go wrong and everything, or happens to go, right, and everything happens just the way it is. Thank God for those salespeople.
Michael Chavez (01:02:41):
Greg White (01:02:41):
All right. As we start to wrap up here, um, let’s, let’s pick one thing that as we go broad, right? Go broad, think global business, global supply chain. What’s one thing, whether it’s a news story or development or innovation, or, or just, uh, a topic in the business, what’s one thing that you are tracking more than others. And Mike, we’ll start with you.
Michael Chavez (01:03:03):
Uh, the big, uh, item or hot, uh, hot subject for me right now is direct to consumer. You know, we’ve seen what Amazon, you know, some of these big players have done with direct to consumer. Um, I’m actually working on a project with different models to, uh, test that within, you know, our fresh produce industry. So that’s a big one for me. Um, I’m guessing Patrick’s probably gonna, you know, cheat out the same answers myself and that we talk about it. It feels like 24 seven, but, uh, you know, I mean, that’s a challenge. I go, and it’s not just a challenge for me personally, you know, this, uh, this, uh, COVID-19 has really challenged us in every way where we’re having to pivot. We’re having to figure out, you know, here’s the problem. We know that how do we come up with the solution? So, you know, we’ve been analyzing a lot of, a lot of information on direct to consumer within, you know, my operation outside. I mean, just looking as an industry in general. So that’s, that’s a big, hot subject for me right now.
Greg White (01:04:02):
That’s a great, uh, angle. That’s not one that was really in my, between my ears, Greg, so poignant. And it goes right back to the discussion we had on Patrick’s show. And that is, I think you, you told us an antidote anecdote about a few people who have contacted you and said, Hey, how do I, did I get golden star produce? Right. And, and you said, I can’t guarantee that because you know, it’s, it’s packaged by, by Costco or Kroger, whoever the retailer is, but I could see just like you said, if the flavor profile works and it’s what they want, why would you not go all the way back to the grower? I mean, it’s the reason that in, in caveman days or whatever, you went back to that very tree for that orange or, or, you know, in, in, if you, if you think about farmer’s markets, you, you go back to that booth, to that farmer to get their oranges, right. I mean, this is the world is just a big, giant farmer’s market now. And if you any, you have an affinity for a particular brand, go get it. It’s brilliant. That is really brilliant. I like that. That caveman visual that you just painted in
Scott Luton (01:05:18):
Patrick Kelly (01:05:18):
Got it. I have, in my mind, I have me going to this pain tree grabbing. Is that pair ready yet? Alright,
Scott Luton (01:05:26):
So Patrick, what’s, what’s your one thing that you’re tracking more than others here right now.
Patrick Kelly (01:05:31):
I’m going to be real here. I’m going to piggyback off direct to consumer, obviously, but I’m going to go more into a leadership. Listen, empathy, empathy, empathy right now is what I’m not seeing. Um, everybody’s getting bashed for their own opinions. Um, whether it’s an, a political statement, whether it’s just an operation, it’s like, no one can have an opinion anymore. It’s like before it was like, Oh yeah, you know, opinions like this, you know, I’m not going to say you guys all know the phrase, but it opinions like
Greg White (01:05:57):
A belly button, right?
Patrick Kelly (01:06:00):
The ability to understand and share the feelings of others during this time is I, I haven’t seen it. And what I mean by that as I have, but people are lacking that because of the social distance, in what we’re doing. And I believe as we move forward, this is going to be a new world. We’re teaching our kids. We all have kids on this call and that we’re teaching our kids to work from home now, right at the age of five years old, we’re teaching them all these things, but we’re expecting so much of them. So as you look to these cross generations and you see from the gen Z all the way through to the baby boomers, we have five living, breathing, working generations in the workforce today, everybody’s going to have a different culture, different brat background, a diverse culture could be from another country. We need to have empathy, and we really need to embrace these new cultures that’s happening today. And I am starting to see that in companies, but I haven’t seen enough. And I really hope that, uh, we, as people gain more empathy and get past this 20
Scott Luton (01:06:59):
Well said, well said, Bravo, I’d give you a standing applause because we need so much more empathy. And that’s the kind of core of your message they’re understanding. But you know what, so your tools of the trade, Mike, you showed us the refractive meter. I think I got that, right. I’ve got, I’ve got a jerky meter and it’s been going off the walls here lately. So to are, don’t be a jerk,
Patrick Kelly (01:07:23):
You know, put yourself in other people’s shoes
Scott Luton (01:07:26):
And walk in them for a little while, right? I mean, we, when he’s so much more of that, especially in the challenging year, that is 2020, where folks are struggling in different ways. You may not see it. You may have no have no idea, but we’ve got to double down on that. So, Greg, I know you wanna go ahead, seek first to understand everyone should read the seven habits of how
Greg White (01:07:49):
Highly effective people and single person on the planet
Scott Luton (01:07:54):
Should read it. Write a book that starts with what you want said at your funeral about you. If everyone looked at life that way, or as I think I said on another one of our shows, just pretend your grandmother is right there beside you. Every single thing you say and do, you will be a lot better person cause who wants to, who wants to let their grandma down,
Patrick Kelly (01:08:19):
Right? If you met my grandmother,
Scott Luton (01:08:24):
Well, this has been a great, I really enjoyed the first episode. I’ve really enjoyed this one. I really appreciate how down to earth and just, um, how, how, um, Frank you are and what you’re sharing. And, and of course your, your expertise in the world of produce and supply chain. It comes out, um, as, as a gold star gleaming, as, as Mike started front end, look at that. He’s been waiting on the whole show to do that.
Patrick Kelly (01:08:53):
Is he pulling this stuff off of like one, two? Like, is he actually writing this stuff down? Now
Scott Luton (01:09:01):
We prep a little bit around here, but, um, not really. I really appreciate, we all come from appreciate the passion and the expertise in the industry. Let’s make sure our listeners know how to connect with y’all and your respective organizations. And Mike, let’s start with you,
Patrick Kelly (01:09:15):
Uh, real simple, go to our website, www dot golden star, citrus.com. You can check out our product offerings, contact us, learn a little about us.
Scott Luton (01:09:28):
Awesome. Perfect. It’s just that simple. All right, Patrick.
Patrick Kelly (01:09:32):
Yeah, I’m going to be a little more complicated. I actually got to plug in, you know, with Greg here. Um, also if you want to learn about the generations, you got to get my book millennial boom, that talks all things about the generations thrive in life and work. And there’s a couple of produce stories in there as well. I mentioned that because you get, you can reach firstname.lastname@example.org under our messages, but you could also check out millennial boom now.com, um, which you’ll find my book with. I coauthored with Han Stenzel that gives, like I said, the little life and times of millennials, boomers, gen Xers, and the new gen Z coming up along with some front produce stories. Um, and email@example.com anywhere on any social media, you can find me at the Patrick Kelly or the Patrick Kelly, 85.
Scott Luton (01:10:14):
Love it. Awesome. Greg, what another, another great episode with these two, right? These two cats were literally born to do this. I mean, they grew up in families that did what they’re doing and you know, we see that so frequently, right? I mean, Patrick’s Irish. I think he should have been a cop, but somehow they got into the citrus industry, grossly generalizing there. But, um, but you know, I think it’s interesting to see how much of an impact, whether you wind up with the family business like Michael did or not in the family business, what an incredible influence discussions over the dinner table are discussions around home and, and, and family relationships are in shaping who you become and what you do for a living. That’s it can’t be, uh, and you know, Patrick just talked about that. It cannot be overemphasized, the impact that you have on your children, mine are fully baked.
Scott Luton (01:11:12):
You know, the, the, you can see the little things and when they get old enough, they tell you about the little things where you think they weren’t listening and how that dramatically influenced their lives. Right? So every little thing matters. And that’s an important lesson as people are spending so much time with their kids at home. Yes. And a great song. We started a warm up show about songs and you heard through, I actually heard some of Patrick and Greg sing, and if you happen to be with us before we went, but, uh, all right. So, and, and the thing that stood out for me, both Patrick and Mike are trailblazers and pioneers. I mean, I mean, Patrick, with the first, uh, to focus on the produce industry as a podcast, right. And we’ve seen the numbers take off, we’ve seen the interest in demand in that.
Scott Luton (01:11:59):
And then, uh, Mike, a couple different ways, but blockchain in particular, I mean, there’s so many organizations struggling to figure out how to do it, and yes, Mike’s been doing it a couple of years. Now. That’s a matter of fact, right. Early adopter, early adopter. So a lot of good stuff, a big thanks to Michael Chavez and Patrick Kelly, uh, look forward to doing this again. And really soon, I will make sure to have your, um, your, your social links and your website and all in the show notes to make it easy for our audience to plug in. Uh, and Greg, that’s gonna just about wrap up this episode of supply chain now, right? Yeah. I guess, I guess that’s gotta be it, but, um, look, we learned a lot here. Um, and I would encourage you to go to the produce industry podcast and listen up and also get yourself some of that golden star protein.
Scott Luton (01:12:49):
I’m really looking for actually, Michael, we should talk offline because there are companies that are specifically focused on helping brands like yours, get into DTC so we can touch base on that. But I’m really looking forward to those days coming. And it’s funny that direct to consumer is quite the topic these days. I’m gonna go horseman right now. I’ve got, y’all got me craving some navel oranges right now. And that’s what that’s going to be. What I’m going to do is wrap up this interview. But on that note on behalf of Greg white, on behalf of our whole supply chain, now team here, Hey, do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. Take a page out a Patrick’s book. Uh, and with that in mind, we’ll see you next time here.
Would you rather watch the show in action? Watch as Scott and Greg welcome Patrick Kelly and Michael Chavez to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.
Patrick Kelly is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and strategist in the produce/supply chain industry. For more than 15 years Patrick has been dedicated to growing supply chains for produce partners around the world becoming the Class of 2015’s, Young and Smart Leaders on the rise, Top 40 under 40 and A Young Entrepreneur making better deals for growers. He has dedicated his work to learning and leading all generations to work and thrive together.
Michael Chavez is the Vice President of Sales and Operations at Golden Star Citrus Inc. He was born and raised in citrus growing/packing operation and started working on his family ranches at age 12. He has experience in field work and packinghouse work. He worked in packinghouse during high school and community college years. Then Michael went on to Fresno State and graduated in 2009. He was able to intern at a Kroger procurement office on his summer breaks in 2007 + 2008, and then he was asked to come on full time once he graduated in 2009. Michael worked for Kroger from 2009-2012 inspecting and buying all types of produce items ad working with many grower/packers. He decided to come back to run sales and operations with his family company in 2012. He has two daughters that he enjoys spending time with outdoors and in the mountains during his free time.
Greg White serves as Principal & Host at Supply Chain Now. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory: www.trefoiladvisory.com
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