Earthbound Farm Organic - New Organic BlendsAll your grape needs in one placeBringing organic & conventional grower partnerships to market

July Sales Pick: Mark Cassius, Partner, Modern Veg Farms

There are some faces that make you smile from across the room, the trade show floor, or, let’s be honest, the bar. I met Mark back in 2011, when he was with EuroFresh and I swear, he opened the first clamshell of packaged snacking tomatoes I ever had. He may also be responsible for changing our own Brian LaForce’s tomato hesitation into a craving. Now, as a Modern Veg Partner, he gets to take the bull by the horns on his terms. And he is loving every minute of it.

How has sales shaped the way that you approach your own life?

I am certainly sensitive to salespeople in other industries, and often critique their approach and sales strategy. You learn how to tell if someone is not knowledgeable about their product. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know, but I will get back to you with the answer.” While some may say it makes me skeptical, I think that a critical eye helps me navigate the world.

A Passion for Community Gardens...

My wife and I have two plots in one of the twenty-five Tucson community gardens. We have been working and tilling the desert soil, exchanging seeds, and growing seasonal fruit and veggies year-round for the last ten years. This has been a great way to meet neighbors, harvest, and assist one another in growing bountiful produce, most of the time. It’s great to be outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and scenery of the mountains of Tucson.

Giving Back

Several years ago, my mother-in-law and father-in-law suggested to my wife and I that they had everything they needed and preferred that for their birthdays and the like, we donate the money we would have spent on them to a local charity. Around this time, I began to get involved in the local community. I have enjoyed working on various fundraising and grant projects with the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. Our foundation has a local impact assisting organizations and people in southern Arizona and our reach stretches to other parts of the world that need assistance.

Who are some of your mentors?

I have been blessed to have worked with many amazing individuals over my 30-year produce career. These individuals have assisted in rounding out the rough spots and inspiring me to continue to develop, learn, and improve.

  • Naturipe’s Dwight Ferguson
  • SunFed’s Danny Mandel
  • Krivanek Consulting’s Julie Krivanek

What are some of the core values that drive you?

Honesty and integrity go hand-in-hand and are the foundation of our business. Most of our business is conducted over the phone; you better do what you say and say what you do or you will not have much creditability. Get out and visit customers and get some face time and have an exchange of ideas that mutually benefits our business.

Inspirations & motivations...

I am in awe of the multi-generational family farms in our industry. These growers are the life blood of our industry, and work tirelessly, rain or shine. I have been lucky to get to know some amazing people that have become lifelong friends. In fact, they are more like family. I truly believe there is no other industry like ours, the hard work, fast pace, and long hours are offset by the amazing individuals that make our industry fun.

What do you hope to teach your children and what would you like to impart on them?

Not to be cliché, but I have always stressed the importance of continuing to pursue learning and focus on their education. I am truly proud of both my daughters with their commitment to learning and community. Now, more like young adults, they contribute to the community by volunteering their time in fundraising activities as well as working with kids that need assistance. Hopefully they will pay this forward with the next generation.