As I sit here at my desk contemplating what 2013 holds for Markon, I find myself reflecting on the events of 2012 and what they meant for our members and our employees. In many ways it was a difficult year with the country’s economic recovery still underway, but we kept pushing forward and achieved several milestones in the areas of quality, food safety, and customer satisfaction.
Being a part of the dialogue that drives the fresh produce industry forward occupied a lot of my passion this year. I intensified my personal efforts in the industry arena with the Center for Produce Safety, the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, and on the Equitable Food Initiative. Markon also expanded our 5-Star Food Safety® Program to include non-branded products, while several of our members aided local/small growers with training sessions and food safety seminars. We increased our number of Boots in the Field inspectors and expanded into additional growing regions in the U.S. and Mexico. And we approved the revival of our much-requested No. 2-grade brand (now called Markon Essentials) for bell peppers, citrus, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes.
The other big story for Markon in 2012 was our jump headfirst into social media. We started with the launch of our revamped, much more user-friendly website that includes an extensive Markon on your Menu tab where members, chefs, and customers can get creative with recipes, usage ideas, photos, nutritional information, and more. We followed that up with a Facebook page, Twitter account, Seedlings blog (right here!), and a dedicated YouTube channel where we post Live from the Fields videos to keep everyone in the food chain abreast of breaking news in field quality, harvesting conditions, weather fluctuations, and industry-wide defects. The response to all of these platforms has been enormously positive and has brought the Markon community tighter, even while expanding it. And it’s demonstrated the tremendous value of real-time information—how it enables members and operators to respond quickly and appropriately to changing conditions.
Several new, on-trend Markon First Crop (MFC) and Ready-Set-Serve (RSS) products started shipping and have proven to be excellent complements to our program, including RSS Baby Chard, Spinach, and Tat-Soi, MFC Tuscan Lettuce, RSS Heritage Blend, RSS Southwest Blend, and RSS Brussels Sprouts.
And last but not least, three exemplary employees shined on the national scale in 2012. Joe Ange was one of 23 fellows in California Agricultural Leadership Program’s class of 42 chosen to embark on a 20-month journey focusing on leadership styles, business strategies, and agricultural methodologies. Rich Ramos was picked for the Produce Marketing Association’s Emerging Leaders Program, an intense study of senior-level decisions—how and why they are made—as well as how to develop leadership skills, build strong relationships, use critical thinking, and nurture our innate abilities. And David Dudley took part in the Western Growers’ Association Future Volunteer Leadership Program representing the next generation of leaders in the Arizona and California fresh produce industry and learned about the role Western Growers plays in leading its members toward a healthy, sustainable, and profitable future. We’re proud to have such forward-thinking people in our organization and anticipate the great things they are sure to do in their careers.
Cheers to more positive steps in 2013!