own in the rich soil of Florida, the once centralized roots of J&J Family of Farms have grown and unfurled beyond the thick nourishment of the South in order to anchor the company even further throughout the globe. As it has doubled and then tripled its reach to provide its customers additional benefits, J&J’s veritable and well-seeded strength has remained unchanged, pulsing from its core due to one integral fact: an unwavering focus on its growers.
This strategy is at the forefront of its every move; J&J Family of Farms has infused all corners of its operations with a genuine commitment to each hand that helps collectively uphold the J&J name. With over 10,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. now blanketed with the J&J ideals, just how is the company able to maintain such resolute assurance to its growers in what can oftentimes be a demanding industry?
A few of the faces that lead the company’s charge joined me to divulge the strategic groundwork that has not only enabled the company to cultivate the high-quality fruits and vegetables that consumers hunt for in the produce aisle, but has also launched it towards new territories.
With Chairman and CEO Lynn Rundle, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing Chris Coffman, and VP of Business Development Brian Rayfield to steer its course, J&J Family of Farms maintains that even as new plans unfold for 2017 and beyond, the company will continue its first objective, laid down over 30 years ago: grower loyalty.
“Our growers are true partners in our distribution business, which we feel isn’t often seen in the market,” Chris discloses, emphasizing that each partnership ensures that growers gain the maximum value from their produce. “The strategic alliances we’ve built have resulted not only in continuous growth for our company, but more importantly, for their operations as well.”
By pursuing only select farmer partners to join in its vision, the company is able to provide continual and intuitive solutions to its retail and foodservice partners while still remaining intimately tied to its roots and values—not only as curators of the land, but also of its people. Such partnerships include a diverse supply chain focus from Thomas Produce in Florida, unique farming applications through the Georgia-based Moore Farms, the meticulous operations of Bullard Farms in Georgia, North Carolina’s Patterson Farms’ historic legacy, and most recently, the prowess of its seed partner Seminis®.
However, no matter how far the reach of J&J Family of Farms may spread or how many growers are added to its fold, the company remains stalwart and steady in our ever-changing industry through one particular assurance—the Trophy Experience.
The unchanging pillars of this vision perfectly prime the company to be boosted by its network of growers, delivering consistent satisfaction to its grower and customer partners along the way through a fixation on progressive processes and commitment to quality.
Keeping growers happy and motivated has also allowed for J&J to expand its offerings even further than just high-quality selections of cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, green and colored bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and chili peppers. With its unique sense of flexibility and diversification, the company is ultimately better suited to serve the fluctuating demands of the buy-side sector and end consumer.
“Our vertically-integrated nature gives our customers confidence that we are in control of our own supply, in addition to offering value-added source packaging, forward distribution, just-in-time delivery, and category management analysis,” Lynn says. “J&J achieves operational efficiency by aggregating farm inputs and passing along efficiencies to those part of our family of farms, as we have since our establishment.”
This targeted grower spotlight has given J&J a historic legacy of being able to step from each milestone to the next with a variable amount of ease. Florida-bred, the company soon followed its founding by adding more states to its steadfast operations throughout the 90s; including the growing climates of Georgia and North Carolina. As the new millennium approached, the company expanded its footprint by global means, adding Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic to its belt.
“J&J Family of Farms is focused on the same vision that was instilled by its founders in 1983, to provide consumers with the best quality produce through in-class farming practices, but we have evolved,” Brian shares with me. “As a now national supplier with international reach, we are constantly looking for ways to keep improving in order to continuously provide our customers with the same best-in-quality product they’ve come to expect year-round.”
“Our partnerships allow us to essentially become the grower,” asserts Lynn. “This means we have full control over our supply, providing a secure source to our customers. This has been proven to be a point of differentiation in our customers’ purchasing decisions.”
This symbiotic relationship between company and grower also presents an additional perk to the expansive portfolio of J&J: A unique diversity to its operations in both product and packaging, further enabling the company to preemptively solve any needs required by its customers. Throughout the company’s entire collective, J&J Family of Farms packs its produce close to the source, procured from several distinct climates throughout the year. The end result? A high-quality product for each season, year-round.
“We’re investing more and more into crop diversification, as we know consumers are constantly changing their produce needs. We want to make sure we create improvement in the varieties of our crops, while also enhancing our plant productivity,” Lynn tells me, naming the company’s newly-announced field-grown colored peppers as the perfect manifestation of this drive.
With a firm grip around the first portion of 2017, the company is looking to build further on the stability of its partnered reach. Propelling towards well-supported growth through procedure, safety, and selection, the company is set for the possibilities that the remaining months of the year may hold.
For instance, acting as the best partner for both the buy-side and the supply-side also means utilizing the best technology and safest practices available. J&J has implemented top-notch software in both its overall business practices and farm-level operations, and added drone technology to its farming practices in a proverbial nod to the wave of the future.
From robust food safety processes to an unyielding commitment to its employees, J&J is constantly seeking out organizations and methods throughout each year that can positively impact its business and partners–allowing the company to remain at the forefront of social responsibility. These actions, including partnerships with the Farmworkers Coordinating Council and Feeding Florida, instill a sense of commitment throughout the company that can then trickle down into the end product that falls into the hands of its customers and consumers.
“Whether it’s a value-added pack or bulk packaging, we make sure we provide trophy-packed produce to be delivered right when it’s needed with the same consistency in quality and production that we are known for,” Chris adds, emphasizing that this flexibility allows the company to stay ahead of the curve of buy-side needs.
The company has also not stifled the stretch of its reach, as it has effectively pegged 2017 as another opportune interval to bring more growers under its arm. J&J Family of Farms is looking to add more crucially-located regional partners to its operations and growing space.
“We have our sights set on partnering with the East Coast and offshore growers for specific categories,” Lynn says. “We want to continue our dedication and loyalty to our growers by broadening our offerings, tapping in on the constant opportunities for betterment, and investing in always providing the freshest, safest product possible to our customers.”
As J&J continues streamlining its prospective growth across the board, its same predominant focus rings true to guide the way: Counting on its values and trust in growers to deliver consumer satisfaction time-and-again.
“The values of J&J Family of Farms are integrity, attitude, cooperation, communication, execution, and leadership," says Brian. “Our success and where we stand today is a direct result of our focus on our values in everything we do. By having and promoting strategic grower partners, we will continue to find innovative ways to improve our farming practices and distinguish our brand in the market.”
With its roots inextricably woven into the force of its clan and reaching ever farther, it seems as though J&J Family of Farms will know no bounds to the aspirations before it. And, as the saying goes, those with deep roots need fear no wind.