Matt Williams has been a member of the Vanguard team for nearly 18 years. Like many of his teammates he was practically born to it, growing up in the bountiful Pacific Northwest.
On the procurement side Matt’s primary focus is on apples, pears, and cherries, a critical part of the Vanguard portfolio. On the sales side, Matt drives business in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It takes skill and persistence to balance these multi-faceted markets and persistence is Matt’s middle name. When the intricacies of a market get complicated whether politically or logistically, Matt simply becomes more determined to make it happen.
Since moving back to Wenatchee, Matt and his family have reconnected with their love of the outdoors with two very active and athletic young boys.
Let’s get to know Matt a little more!
VG: Has Washington always been home, or did you re-locate for work?
Matt: Washington has always been my home. I was born in Seattle, but raised in the Eastern Washington city of Wenatchee. I’ve always been drawn to smaller cities and why I relocated back to the Wenatchee area with my family.
VG: Have you always been destined for fresh produce? How did your career begin?
Matt: Growing up in Wenatchee, I was surrounded by apple, pear, cherry orchards, and farms. I graduated from Wenatchee Valley College with a Tree Fruit production degree and received a B.S. in Agribusiness from Washington State University. I was fortunate to have a friend who worked for Vanguard and introduced me to the company. I have now been with Vanguard for almost 18 years.
VG: We are well into managing in a global pandemic – what have been the greatest challenges? Any positive outcomes of a change in SOP?
Matt: Besides having my kids with me 24/7?! Joking aside, the greatest challenges have been with the supply chain. Before the pandemic, yes, we faced challenges to ship for festival or holiday specific dates, but now it’s more difficult to keep up with the global shipping and supply constraints. Vanguard has adapted during the pandemic to shift its model of working in the office, to a more remote/hybrid inclusive environment. Through this, I have embraced working from home, and have become more resilient and adaptive to my surroundings while caring for my kids and home duties.
VG: Whose day to you impact on a regular basis? Who hears from you the most?
Matt: With our industry centered around service and communication, it is important that I have daily interactions with all areas of our business – our customers, suppliers, and coworkers on our global sales and operation teams.
I would say that Yuyuh Sukmana most likely hears from me the most. We have grown a strong relationship over the past 17 years and I can rely on him for allyship, mentorship, and collaboration.
VG: What has been a memorable moment of your time with Vanguard?
Matt: There have been so many over the years, I am not able to choose one over the other, however meeting our global customers has been one of the highlights for me. During my travels, I get to experience the life through the eyes of our customers – walking the markets and warehouses to eating the local cuisines. It’s always fun to share my story of when I ate turtle in Cambodia or when I celebrated my birthday in Jakarta.
VG: What does your free time look like! Spending time with family, friends?
Matt: My wife and I have two very active boys, 4 and 7 years old. I try to spend as much time as possible with my family. Now that the pandemic has lifted restrictions on recreational activities, we really enjoy being outdoors, taking them to parks, and to soccer, basketball, or baseball practices or games. This year we signed them up with the “learn how to skate” program at our local ice rink, and we will be doing the “learn how to ski” program up at our local ski slope, Mission Ridge.
VG: Do you have a favorite produce item? If yes how do you prefer to eat it (Snack? Signature Recipe?)
Matt: We are a big fruit eating family. We enjoy apples, grapes, and strawberries every week, but my favorite is a slice of Watermelon. It’s perfectly crisp, sweet, and juicy on its own and I will say “No thank you” to the viral Tik Tok yellow mustard + watermelon combo.