Tammy Collum is a Vanguard Direct sales associate located in Elburn, Illinois.
Tammy is responsible for building long-lasting loyal customer relationships. She is a key player in our organization, and especially so during our busy grape season, managing multiple programs that include all the required day-to-day coordination and communications.
Let’s get to know Tammy a little more!
VG- Has Illinois always been home, or did you re-locate for work?
Tammy: I was born and raised in Illinois, just outside of Chicago, in the beautiful village of Glen Ellyn. After college, I moved to Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, and then Bakersfield, California where I lived for 30 years and jumped into fresh produce. Just under 4 years ago I moved back to Illinois to work remotely and be closer to my parents and family members. My California husband John didn’t realize what weather really was till we moved here!
VG – Have you always been destined for fresh produce? How did your career begin?
Tammy: I was working for Pepsi Cola where I worked closely with retailers and food service customers in Southern California, and one day Sun World International leadership contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come work for them. I embraced the opportunity to work in agriculture since my stepfather was a farmer and taught me that it was a great lifestyle and career.
VG – We are well into managing in a global pandemic – what have been the greatest challenges? Any positive outcomes of a change in SOP?
Tammy: Being a social person and enjoying visiting customers in person, the past few years have been challenging. Thank goodness for Teams and Zoom meetings! It kept me connected with my teammates and customers. It was like I didn’t miss a beat. I would use Teams Video to make calls to my co-workers, and it made me feel like I was sitting right next to them. I woke up every day and did my normal morning routine to get ready for work and created a nice cheerful workspace in my home office. I think I learned to prioritize better and work on being a more balanced person when it came to work and personal life. I now have a little more balance in my life which makes me happy and more productive.
VG – Whose day to you impact on a regular basis. Who hears from you the most?
Tammy: My days are focused on how I can increase grape sales for our customers and for Vanguard. I try daily to be helpful and informative to my customers, but also to my internal customers – my teammates. ‘’Sharing is caring” I always say and “Knowledge is Power” – so I do my best to communicate information to all and learn new things every day about our industry and global economics. I want our customers to feel confident and know that I am their grape expert, and here to help them grow their grape category and produce sales.
VG – What has been a memorable moment of your time with Vanguard
Tammy: It’s been 9 months with the company, and I have enjoyed every moment with my new team members. There are a lot of memorable moments with my team. However, I have to say I have a couple of moments that stand out. First, it was the first time I got to meet Manuel Yzaga and Fanny Robles in person, from Peru, in New Jersey and Savannah last March. We visited our warehouses and inspected our fruit landing in the United States. It was great to collaborate with the two of them and view and taste our fantastic grapes that had just arrived. Second, it must be the feeling I get when my customers call me to tell me how much they love our grapes, and how happy they are the product arrived in such great condition and tastes so good! Those are a lot of great memorable moments I have had this year!
VG – What does your free time look like! Spending time with family, friends?
Tammy: Free time is spent with family exploring the state of Illinois and the mid-west again. It had been over 33 years since I lived here, so when I moved back in January 2019, I wanted to visit many places and create new memories. My husband John and I are members of the Lion’s International organization in Elburn, IL, and so we volunteer our time often to help our community we love so much. Being the social couple that we are, we are hosting our third annual Chili Cook Off in our neighborhood this month and looking forward to making more new friends!
VG – Do you have a favorite produce item? If yes, how do you prefer to eat it (Snack? Signature Recipe?)
Tammy: Grapes of course! Best snack ever! I love to add them to salads and eat them with cheese and crackers. I have to say, the AUTUMNCRISP® grape is my favorite grape, but I do love all grapes that have a Muscat flavor to them too.
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.