You might say that Jon was destined for fresh produce growing up in beautiful Wenatchee, Washington. Jon headed over to the “wet “ side of Washington State in 2012 when he first joined Vanguard in the Issaquah Office. Jon headed back to Wenatchee in 2018 to work remotely BEFORE that became the new normal. Jon is responsible for the procurement of North American table grapes AND cherries — two very important categories in the Vanguard arsenal. On the customer side, Jon focuses on Bangladesh, Japan, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and the Middle East. Ask anyone and they will marvel at Jon’s ability to stay calm, focused, and inspire with his work ethic. Jon’s a consummate family man as well, the move back to Wenatchee originally driven by his desire to continue to grow his career AND his family in the heart of Washington’s fruit basket.
Let’s get to know Jon a little more!
VG: You’ve relocated back to Wenatchee from Issaquah working remotely BEFORE Covid made that the new normal – how has the transition from Issaquah been?
Jon: It has been a great transition from Issaquah back to our hometown of Wenatchee. Most of our family and friends remained in the community of Wenatchee, so it has been wonderful to raise our kids locally with a great support network behind us. Working from home allows for a shorter commute (just down the stairs to my office) then when we lived in Issaquah and the weather is just slightly better with way less rain and more sunshine!
VG: Have you always been destined for fresh produce? How did your career begin?
Jon: Growing up in Wenatchee, the heart of world-class apples, pears, and cherries, it’s difficult to envision a different career path. I’ve had family in the industry, worked in an orchard, and have friends that are growers so being in an industry that supports and encourages this community, it’s always something I wanted to be a part of. My career in the produce industry began with a local distributor in Wenatchee where cold calling and quick learning curves were part of every day, but it helped me develop the right skills and tenacity that this industry demands. It was a great experience and allowed for a great transition to Vanguard when the opportunity became available
VG: We are well into managing in a global pandemic – what have been the greatest challenges? Any positive outcomes of a change in SOP?
Jon: The greatest challenge that I initially felt when we entered the global pandemic was understanding the impact it had on our customers. Some countries and markets shutdown completely for significant time periods, while others were able to operate in a modified capacity so understanding the complexities of each market was the greatest challenge early on. However, given current times, global logistics are our greatest challenge and we are experiencing it on a wide scale, regardless of the origin, whether it be the U.S., South Africa, New Zealand, or anywhere else, we are all faced with many difficulties. The biggest positive outcome that I’ve seen from the change in SOP is the further need of communication and transparency amongst all involved in the supply chain. I think the global pandemic really gave everyone involved the understanding of how important our role is in supplying healthy foods throughout the world, and everyone has really worked hard and together to keep fruits and vegetables moving to the global markets.
VG: Whose day to you impact on a regular basis? Who hears from you the most?
Jon: My day is full of communication, whether it be on the phone, e-mail, or any number of messaging apps that our customers use globally. I am on the phone constantly throughout the day with our customers, suppliers, Vanguard teammates, either here in the U.S. or overseas, discussing markets, opportunities, and getting feedback from our growers and our customers. This communication is fundamental to not only my success at Vanguard, but it is a cornerstone of Vanguard’s strategy. Having split responsibilities between procurement and sales, there is a harmonious flow of information between myself, customers, suppliers, and our Vanguard teammates.
VG: What has been a memorable moment of your time with Vanguard? After 9 years I’m sure there are more than a few memorable moments!
Jon: There are many memorable moments, probably too many to count, but traveling to meet with our customers, suppliers, or teammates both domestically and globally has to be #1 for me. I’ve been fortunate to travel to several international markets and countries over the past 9 years, as well as California so many times it feels like a second home, but the opportunities I get to spend face-to-face with the people I work with on a daily basis are what are most memorable to me.
VG: What does your free time look like! Spending time with family, friends?
Jon: As mentioned above, my family is extremely important in my life so spending as much quality time with them is how I spend my free time. That may be in the form of hiking, traveling, boating, or helping them with their local sports team. I also enjoy being able to get out fishing or golfing when the time allows.
VG : Do you have a favorite produce item? If yes how do you prefer to eat it (snack? signature recipe?)
Jon: Given my involvement with table grapes, it is by far my favorite produce item. Especially with the development of new varieties the past several years from many different breeders, it is exciting and fun to experience the new varieties and the individualized eating experiences that each of them bring. Also, with Vanguard being a major grower of table grapes in Peru, it only reinforces how important grapes our to Vanguard. Being able to experience unique varieties of table grapes with my family is my favorite – they always laugh at how excited I get when our local grocery store carries a new variety for them to try.
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.