take to move into management roles. It requires varied experiences, including two years working outside of the company for an unaffiliated firm. While in college, Eric spent a summer in Mexico and another in Spain working in berry production. Upon graduation, he took a year off and sailed the family’s 56-foot sailboat down the coast of Mexico and Central America and across to New Zealand. Running aground in Fiji was among the more harrowing experiences. He also recalls being boarded in Panama by armed men. “We thought we were being pirated but they just asked us some questions and left.” Back in California and ready to start his berry career in earnest in early 2008, Garland suggested that his son become involved in the company’s new philanthropy project. But Eric rejected that idea. “I told him I wanted to learn how the company makes money before being involved in giving it away.” So Eric was sent to Central Mexico, near Guadalajara, where he invested in an eight acre plot of raspberries to learn about the berry business from the ground up. “I learned a lot,” he said of his year in Mexico. “I also greatly improved my Spanish and gained appreciation for the people of Mexico and how they live their lives. It’s a better pace of life. They take time to create relationship; it’s less about getting things done.” After his year in Mexico, Reiter moved to Santa Maria and farmed 60 acres of strawberries for two years. That was another great learning experience in running crews and moving a lot more volume through the system on a daily basis. He also learned that making a profit wasn’t that easy. “I made more money on the eight acres of raspberries in Mexico than I made on the 60 acres of strawberries in Santa Maria,” he joked, partly blaming his father for that outcome. “Dad had a lot of ideas that he wanted to test out but couldn’t get other growers to do it. My farm became his giant test plot.” They experimented with many things including machine harvesting, longer rows and pay incentives for workers based on the quality of berry that was picked. “There were a lot of little things we learned from those experiences,” he said, indicating that among the learnings was what not to do. Reiter’s next stop was across the country as he spent his two years of outside work at Wegmans Food Markets in upstate New York. He worked both in-store and in the corporate office during that stint, learning

a lot about retailing, category management, the company’s extensive training program, and, unfortunately, how to respond to a major produce product recall. When he came back to the West Coast, Eric went through the same process that has been laid out for other family members—a review and discussion of what management positions were open at either RAC or Driscoll’s for which he might qualify. While he likes the marketing end of the business and believes it might hold his interest at some point in his career, Eric also loves the supply side and that’s where he has been operating for the last half dozen years. He is involved in all of RAC’s growing operations in California developing the strategic plan that creates the optimum amount of each berry variety on a daily basis. The Future: Both RAC and Driscoll’s have together, and separately, developed berry opportunities all over the world. The two companies have growing operations in California, Florida, Mexico, Portugal, Morocco, and China, which is the newest player in their game. Eric believes California will always be a major part of the RAC/Driscoll game plan, but he notes that it is challenging to do business in the state and that other regions are increasingly being relied upon for growth. He said the company is very bullish on China, both for its potential as supplier and consumer of berries. “We think China and these other regions will be our growth engine.” He said that Driscoll’s and RAC are currently growing all four berries (raspberry, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries) in China using the shared-concept with local growers that it pioneered in Mexico. The program involves a shared investment that allows growers to expand their operations with investments from Reiter and Driscoll’s. The WG Connection: Before Eric, both his uncle and father served on the Western Growers Board of Directors, which is how the young Reiter became acquainted with the organization. His formal introduction was as a member of the association’s Future Volunteer Leaders Program several years ago. “That was a great experience,” he said. “I got to meet board members and create a relationship with others in the industry, some of whom have become board members themselves. I also got to meet and know the staff. Karen (Timmins) and Cory (Lunde) put on an awesome program.”


RYAN TALLEY, Chairman ALBERT KECK, Senior Vice Chair STUART WOOLF, Vice Chair CAROL CHANDLER, Treasurer VICTOR SMITH, Executive Secretary DAVE PUGLIA, President DIRECTORS – 2020 GEORGE J. ADAM Innovative Produce, Santa Maria, California ALEXANDRA ALLEN Main Street Produce, Santa Maria, California KEVIN S. ANDREW Vanguard International, Bakersfield, California ROBERT K. BARKLEY Barkley Ag Enterprises LLP, Yuma, Arizona STEPHEN J. BARNARD Mission Produce, Inc., Oxnard, California BARDIN E. BENGARD Bengard Ranch, Salinas, California GEORGE BOSKOVICH III Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, California NEILL CALLIS Turlock Fruit Company, Turlock, California DON CAMERON Terranova Ranch, Helm, California EDWIN A. CAMP D. M. Camp & Sons, Bakersfield, California CAROL CHANDLER Chandler Farms LP, Selma, California LAWRENCE W. COX Coastline Family Farms, Salinas, California STEPHEN F. DANNA Danna Farms, Inc., Yuba City, California JOHN C. D’ARRIGO D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Salinas, California THOMAS DEARDORFF II Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, California FRANZ W. DE KLOTZ Richard Bagdasarian Inc., Mecca, California SAMUEL D. DUDA Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc., Salinas, California CATHERINE A. FANUCCHI Tri-Fanucchi Farms Inc., Bakersfield, California DAVID L. GILL Rio Farms, King City, California BRANDON A. GRIMM Grimmway Farms, Arvin, California JOHN JACKSON Beachside Produce, LLC, Nipomo, California A. G. KAWAMURA Orange County Produce, LLC, Irvine, California ALBERT KECK Hadley Date Gardens, Thermal, California FRED P. LOBUE, JR. LoBue Bros., Inc., Lindsay, California FRANK MACONACHY Ramsay Highlander, Inc., Gonzales, California JOHN S. MANFRE Frank Capurro and Son, Moss Landing, California STEPHEN MARTORI III Martori Farms, Scottsdale, Arizona HAROLD MCCLARTY HMC Farms, Kingsburg, California TOMMULHOLLAND Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove, California ALEXANDER T. MULLER Pasquinelli Produce Co., Yuma, Arizona DOMINIC J. MUZZI Muzzi Family Farms, LLC, Moss Landing, California MARK NICKERSON Prime Time International, Coachella, California THOMAS M. NUNES The Nunes Company, Inc., Salinas, California STEPHEN F. PATRICIO Westside Produce, Firebaugh, California RON RATTO Ratto Bros. Inc., Modesto, California CRAIG A. READE Bonipak Produce, Inc., Santa Maria, California ERIC T. REITER Reiter Affiliated Companies, Oxnard, California JOSEPH A. RODRIGUEZ The Growers Company, Inc., Somerton, Arizona WILL ROUSSEAU Rousseau Farming Company, Tolleson, Arizona VICTOR SMITH JV Smith Companies, Yuma, Arizona KELLY STRICKLAND Five Crowns, Inc., Brawley, California RYAN TALLEY Talley Farms, Arroyo Grande, California BRUCE C. TAYLOR Taylor Farms California, Salinas, California STUART WOOLF Woolf Farming & Processing, Fresno, California ROB YRACEBURU Wonderful Orchards, Shafter, California


MAY | JUNE 2020

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