Kirk Son handles Procurement and Sales out of our office in Issaquah, Washington for Vanguard International. He has a sales focus on our Korean market, which is where he is originally from, born and raised. Kirk is a natural, having been a customer of Vanguard in the past, we often refer to him as the ‘ultimate insider’ as he flawlessly defines the needs of our customers. We are thankful for his passion, experience, and resilience to change, both in his personal life, and within our volatile industry.
Let’s get to know Kirk a little more!
VG: You used to be a customer of Vanguard! Have you always been destined for produce? Where did your career start?
Kirk: Since high school, I’ve had jobs in food delivery, as a restaurant manager, and at grocery stores where I had a chance to touch fruits and veggies. I started working as a procurement manager of Chinese veggies in Seoul where I was especially well-versed in carrots, broccoli, onions, and more. After that I had the honor of working for two of the top importers in Korea, which is how I first came to know Vanguard.
VG: How long have you been with Vanguard?
Kirk: 6 years
VG: What has been a memorable moment for you during your time working for Vanguard?
Kirk: Celebrating Halloween. It was fun to celebrate by sharing food and participating in a costume competition. You can’t imagine this kind of celebration in any companies in Korea.
VG: What strategies do you find help you the most when working with people internationally who you don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis?
Kirk: My experience as a procurement manager in Korea certainly helps. I still put myself in the customer’s shoes when I need to make a decision. Sometimes the answer is easy, but sometimes very difficult because I have to find the balance of both customer satisfaction and supplier satisfaction. Being from Asia, I have a good understanding of the culture of most of the customers I work with. Thankfully, Vanguard is also very transparant and supportive of my ideas and development.
VG: What does your free time look like? Spending time with family, friends? Hobbies?
Kirk: I usually spend time with family during the weekend as we have no other family here in the United States. I’m trying to travel around Seattle more as there are plenty of beautiful areas. Also, I really love to play soccer and golf with my son who is 9 years old.
VG: Is there any one thing you miss most about Korea? If so, what is it?
Kirk: Of course my family comes to mind first – my parents, brother, and in-laws. I sometimes feel guilty that my parents haven’t seen how their grandchildren are growing up. When my kids were 6 years and 3 years old, we moved to the United States so my parents, especially my mother, misses us lots. Fortunately, my kids still speak Korean perfectly so they talk with their grandparents through video phone often.
VG: Do you have a favourite produce item? If so, how do you prefer to eat it? (Snack? Signature Recipe?)
Kirk: Avocados. I can eat avocados in many different ways, but my favorite way to eat avocados is with seaweed that is roasted with sesame oil and salt. Just put white rice and a big piece of avocado on the sea weed, wrap it, then dip in wasabi soy sauce!
Every day is different at Vanguard; with new growers joining our community, new crops and fresh varieties being introduced, and new markets opening. Keep up to date with what’s happening in our expanding world.