Eric Reiter Vice President, California Operations Reiter Affiliated Companies LLC Oxnard, CA

Member Since 1972 | Director Since 2019 Groomed for Berries

The Background: Eric Reiter grew up in Santa Barbara, a short drive to the headquarters of Reiter Affiliated Companies LLC (RAC), in Oxnard, CA. As the eldest offspring of the fifth generation of his family to be in California agriculture, it is fair to say he was groomed for his position. In fact, the family company has a well- defined policy in place to bring the future generations into the business. But that wasn’t top of mind as young Eric grew up in Santa Barbara, the beautiful city that hugs the California coast. He calls his childhood “pretty uneventful” adding that Santa Barbara was a great town as he loved all ocean sports, including surfing and sailing. In fact, he sailed through high school and again in college at the University of Southern California. He loved the ocean so much that while in high school, he was considering majoring in marine biology and pursuing a career in that discipline.

However, a tour of USC convinced Eric that was the school for him, and it had no marine biology program. “I majored in business…figuring that would be a good background to have.” While Eric does not remember spending a ton of time on the farm as a kid, it was a constant presence. “When we were young, we would go down to the ranch on Saturdays with Dad (Garland Reiter) and we had summer jobs on the farm,” he said of himself and his siblings. In high school, he recalls being involved in a flavor testing project in the company lab. “I used to drive down there after school,” he remembers. While in college, the young Reiter did gain a healthy respect for the business his father, uncle (Miles Reiter) and ancestors had built, and did begin to point his career aspirations in that direction. Company Background: The Reiter family traces its agricultural roots to the latter half of the 19 th Century with farming operations on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, south of the city. By the early 1900s, the Reiters had moved south to Watsonville and the Santa Clara Valley. It was there that Ed Reiter and Dick Driscoll began growing strawberries together and marketing them under the Driscoll Strawberries Associates label. More than a century later, the two operations are intricately intertwined (though they are separate companies) with Reiter Affiliated Companies being Driscoll’s, and the world’s, largest berry producer. The Reiter family name has long been affiliated with Driscoll’s Inc. (as it is now named) as Miles Reiter has served as chairman of the board for three decades as well as CEO for most of that time. Other members of the family also sit on the Driscoll’s board. Eric Reiter’s Journey: Both RAC and Driscoll’s have a policy in place outlining the path family members must


MAY | JUNE 2020

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