30 June 2023

Behind the Produce: Darrell Franklin 

Darrell Franklin is a dedicated member of the Vanguard International team and is based in Bakersfield, California, where he specializes in Quality Assurance. With 9 years of experience at Vanguard coupled with his many years of prior experience inspecting fruit all over the state of California, Darrell brings a wealth of expertise to his important role, ensuring that the products we export consistently meet the highest standards of quality. 

Let’s get to know Darrell a little more! 

Vanguard: Have you always been destined for fresh produce?  How did your career begin? 

Darrell: Absolutely! My connection to fresh produce runs deep in my family. My grandparents and uncle owned 300 acres of Thompson seedless table grapes that were grown for raisins in California. Since I can remember, my family would drive out from Oklahoma for a two-week visit every summer, during which time I got to be a part of the harvest.  I loved every aspect of it – from farming and tractors to irrigation and more. My journey in the produce industry began during my 20s working in the retail grocery sector. I had the opportunity to transition into the produce department, and I quickly realized my passion for the field. However, as time went on, the repetitive nature of the job began to wear on me, so I decided to explore other options. That is when I joined a company inspecting produce right at the source, where it was being grown for retailers. I have loved this line of work ever since.  

Vanguard: Whose day to you impact on a regular basis. Who hears from you the most?  

Darrell: I am in constant contact with my Sales Manager, Jon Fox, throughout the day. We discuss shipments, fruit quality, and any potential opportunities where a shipper has valuable volume to offer our customers. The sales team also maintains excellent communication and feedback, which contributes to the seamless operations of our business. 

Vanguard: What do you find the most challenging part of your role and the most rewarding? 

Darrell: Each new season presents unique challenges in my job, dictated by factors such as growing conditions, market preferences, and various external influences. As an inspector, my role is to collaborate simultaneously with growers and our sales team to ensure flawless delivery of the right product every time. Navigating these everchanging dynamics poses challenges, yet it remains rewarding year after year.  

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is receiving positive feedback from our customers upon the successful arrival of our products. Additionally, we have the pleasure of welcoming customers who visit each year, and working closely with them to find products that meet their expectations can be incredibly rewarding. 

Vanguard: What has been a memorable moment of your time with Vanguard?  

Darrell: Throughout my 9 years at Vanguard, I have experienced lots of memorable moments. However, one instance that truly stands out is my trip to Tokyo, Japan. The purpose of the visit was to establish rapport with our customer and their customers, and to this day, we have a great relationship. 

Vanguard: What does your free time look like! Spending time with family, friends? 

Darrell: I really enjoy spending time with family and friends as both are very important to me. I recently returned home from a trip to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where I spent the first 26 years of my life, to visit family and friends. On the relaxing side of my free time, I love to go high into the mountains, rent a cabin and go fishing for trout with a few friends.  

Vanguard: The produce industry has a way of taking people around the world quite a bit. Favorite global location to visit for work or pleasure? 

Darrell: A few years ago, I had an incredible opportunity to go to Israel with my church. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. Japan is another destination I’ve had the pleasure of exploring. Looking ahead, I hope to visit Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Peru. 

Vanguard: Do you have a favorite produce item and how do you prefer to eat it (Snack? Signature Recipe?) Darrell: I love all kinds of produce, grapes especially of course, but a good watermelon is hard to beat.