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Getting "Old" Is Optional

In so many ways, it still feels like we are just back from New Orleans, Louisiana, and with another PMA Fresh Summit behind us, you can’t help but feel accomplished as we approach the New Year. I applaud another great show, and most importantly, a productive one for our team.

Around this time, and definitely over the past few weeks since we have arrived back from New Orleans, I’ve had a few situations and conversations arise that have a common denominator: age. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been more sensitive to the issue since turning 50. One of my favorite quotes with a twist is, “Getting older is mandatory, getting ‘old’ is optional.” I believe that is true in life, from athletics to business.

Here, in this article, we are addressing the business aspect.

I have a longtime industry friend and client with whom I sat down at the PMA Fresh Summit this year. Like old friends do, we were talking about days gone by, our lack of hair, our growing kids, our understanding wives, how the icons of the business are retiring, and how somehow now WE are the guys walking around with 30+ years of experience—adding in, “Who are all these young faces?!”

Seriously though, it’s really a cool time in our careers and lives. We’ve learned a lot over the years, and have the energy, passion, knowledge, and desire to contribute and maximize the ROI of our respective companies, as well as help the industry at large. Furthermore, we want to help bring up the young talent and set the stage for the future. Again, what an exciting time in our careers.

But, there is another side to this issue. Lately, I’ve had a few fellow industry vets contact me looking for new jobs. As you would expect, the reasons vary. However, their needs and motivations are all very similar. They need and/or want to work, while continuing to leverage their knowledge, skills, relationships, and many years of experience to contribute to the industry and to a company’s success.


• Keep growing and developing your skills and network in the business. Reach out and work with younger generations, beyond your longtime friends.

• Stay relevant in terms of technology and relationships. 

• Update your resume, and make sure that it’s accentuating your skills and attributes that are needed in today’s environment. Also, make sure that its format and language are equally as fresh.

• Stay hungry. Don’t go into an interview thinking that all your experience and 20+ year relationships are going to get you the job. Times are a’ changing and you need to, also! 

• Do your homework for interviews. Don’t just wing it because you’re a “been there, done that” gal/guy. Show them that you’re ready to join their team! 

• It’s nearly 2018! Get a new haircut and buy some clothes that are up-to-date. 

• Exercise and eat right! Are you wishing for the fountain of youth? Well, guess what? It’s the water fountain! Hydrate, exercise, and eat more of that stuff we’ve been growing and pushing all these years. 

Every so often I half jokingly say that a company is looking for the 35-year-old with 20+ years of experience, for $80K per year. Well, we can’t do anything about some companies’ unrealistic wants and dreams, but we can do something about ourselves. There is a whole new world out there, and YOUR knowledge, skills, and experience are all valuable. I encourage my fellow industry vets to leverage those years and at the same time do not just rely on them. Let’s keep it fresh—keep learning, growing, expanding our knowledge and relationships, and stay hungry!


Rex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe ProduceRex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe Produce, was born & raised in Salinas, CA. His 28 years in the produce industry includes positions in senior sales, marketing & management for some of the industry’s leaders. Rex and his team truly understand that finding the perfect “fit” is about more than matching a skill set with specific job requirements.