There is so Much Opportunity in Produce!
When asked if there were any similarities between teaching 5th grade and her role in fresh produce – Julie Laughton laughed “besides all the hormones?” she began with a smile “. . . a lot of listening, a lot of patience,” she finished diplomatically.
Diplomacy has always served Julie well – first as a teacher with the Salinas School District and now as an Account Manager with Taylor Farms, where she works on the team managing Taylor Farm’s largest foodservice accounts.
Fresh Produce has always been a part of Julie’s life, growing up in the Salinas Valley with family and friends working in the industry. After earning her BS in Agricultural Sciences from CalPoly, she returned home as the Agriculture Teacher at Salinas High School for three years before making the jump into the industry with a role as Sales Coordinator at Taylor Farms Mexico.
“I was a little nervous about making a career switch after working in education, but I was encouraged by family and friends who said I could be a leader in this industry. During the past almost four years, I’ve had the most amazing mentors who also have shown they believe in me and have pushed me to succeed,” Julie recalled.
Success is measured by Julie in more than just her ascent within Taylor Farms, but in the growth of key accounts, including PRO*ACT. “We have over 100 DC’s ordering Taylor Farms product through PRO*ACT; Julie’s attention to detail and insistence to understand the needs of our supply chain has been part of the exponential growth we have experienced,” shared PRO*ACT COO Brian Kane.
“Julie’s knowledge of product was evident during our trip to Taylor Farm’s facilities in Guanajuato, Mexico,” Kane continued. “Her knowledge of our customer base was evident during meetings with distributors and national accounts at our Culinary Summit – it’s extraordinary how quickly she has become a valuable part of our supply chain.”
When asked about her favorite part of her job, Laughton is quick to respond: “the community – every day is not rainbows and unicorns’, but the people we work with daily are fantastic. There are so many moving parts in produce – developing relationships allows for a deeper level of understanding between companies. We want to be on the same team – and not in constant negotiation against each other.”
Julie is thankful for women at Taylor Farms like Michelle Roberts, Lisa Hearn, Tanya Mason, and Gina Basaulda, who have mentored her. “For young women looking to get into the industry – for someone who came from another profession – this industry can be intimidating. It’s fast-paced . . . but it’s so rewarding. They are willing to teach if you are willing to learn,” Julie added, noting how Taylor Farms “has been a leader in hiring, promoting, and trusting female leaders. If you work hard, people will recognize your competence and leadership.”
“There is so much opportunity in produce. For me, I am working in a company that the sky is the limit. I’m still learning. I’m still growing.”
Thanks, Julie, for your example of making the most of this opportunity!