This isn’t a one size fits all industry. Lisa Davis, Director of Business Development for Edge Sales and Marketing, will be the first one to tell you this. The King City, California native, has been working tirelessly to refine and grow Edge’s network of more than 30 industry brands with an expertise in marketing, advertising, and developing new business relationships.
“We want to grow organically and with companies that share the same passion and philosophies that we do. Edge is constantly looking for new clients whose methods and models align with ours,” Lisa tells me.
Edge’s business model allows the company to be incredibly selective but also open to new opportunities, ensuring that Edge can achieve its value proposition of executing market strategies, integrating promotions, events, and new product introductions to drive sales and profits, analyzing product performance, and developing opportunities to lead retail categories.
"It is all about teamwork and partnerships; knowing the ins-and-outs of the brand."
But, the DNA of the company is really what gives the broker its ‘edge.’
The company is made up of individuals that encompass a range of different qualities and experiences. From backgrounds in grocery and retail, to sales and marketing, the team brings a dynamic and unique perspective to the table…or in this case, several.
“Our President and Owner, Brad Raffanti, is always a few steps ahead of the game; constantly looking down field and keeping his eye on the larger picture at hand,” Lisa notes.
At Edge, it is all about teamwork and partnerships; knowing the ins-and-outs of the brand. And partnership, as the word implies, means that the relationship goes both ways. The more that a client engages in that relationship the more that Edge can help them drive their business. The give-and-take creates trust and establishes a firm foundation to help them drive the clients’ brands.
A lot of people may ask what exactly Edge is and what the team does. “Edge is a retail broker, which at times can seem like a very nebulous term,” Lisa tells me. Not everyone understands what the team does as brokers. But, at the end of the day if you can see all the things that Edge does behind the scenes and how much the company invests in its clients and retail partners, it is easy to see the value they bring to each product line and program.
Lisa’s career path originally took root just on the periphery of fresh produce, graduating from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo with a BLA/BS in both Landscape Architecture and Agribusiness Management/Marketing. After earning her two degrees, Lisa joined a firm in San Francisco and began her career in landscape architecture/urban planning.
"Growing up in the heart of agriculture gives you a different perspective." - Lisa Davis
Lisa worked for firms as a college intern in Santa Maria, as well as in Healdsburg and Tampa, Florida. She also had a produce sales coordinator internship in Santa Maria at Pacific Coast Produce, which gave her invaluable insights into the strawberry grower, packer, and shipper industry.
After the move back to California, Lisa’s husband joined Dole, which brought her back to her roots in Salinas, California. It was at this point that Lisa decided to use her Ag Business/Marketing degree and teamed up with a local advertising agency. From there, a business partnership developed and blossomed into the boutique design firm, Blu Creative, allowing Lisa to work with top agri-companies in the Salinas Valley.
After Lisa had her daughter, Jordan, she began to reconsider the long hours necessary to running her own company. Lorri Koster from Mann Packing (a Blu Creative client) introduced her to Brad Raffanti of Edge Sales… the rest is history.
Ag wasn’t exactly new to Lisa’s story at this point. Growing up in the Salinas Valley, Lisa’s family had worked for a large growing company for more than 20 years. They had their feet in the soil for two decades, running everything from a farming operation to managing a transplant business. Lisa’s Dad also worked for Safeway for more than 30 years and her brother has been in the produce and logistic brokering business for over 20 years.
“Growing up in the heart of agriculture gives you a different perspective. Whether you are in it as a family farm or not, your roots are agricultural. I may not have all the retail produce experience, but I certainly have the roots,” Lisa tells me.
Her vision and motivation come from her own personal drive and determination, but she has also grown as a professional through her relationships with others. Take Lorri Koster for example, she has always stood out as a passionate and motivating presence in the industry. Every venture and challenge is always met with the same fervor and dedication.
"When you are involved in significant industry organizations, you learn valuable experiences that you won’t get behind your desk, from a book, or from your own office." - Lisa Davis
“She is not only part of the industry’s history, but she loves what she does. I love that she gives back by being involved, something that I am passionate about as well, with my involvement in different associations and groups. When you are involved in significant industry organizations, you learn valuable experiences that you won’t get behind your desk, from a book, or from your own office,” Lisa says. “It’s through relationships like hers that I have really learned to ‘play like a champion.’”
Dr. Leroy Davis, Lisa’s father-in-law, was another huge influence on her life and career. Dr. Davis was the Head of Agri-business at Cal Poly when Lisa met him… but had not yet met his son. His roots are from the Salinas Valley, and as a student at Cal Poly, she walked into his office to ask if she could take one single ag class. It was Dr. Davis that convinced Lisa she should double major and truly helped her get back to the things she was passionate about.
For the next 5 years Dr. Davis mentored Lisa in college and gave her a roadmap on how to conquer this mission. To this day, Lisa can’t thank him enough for the positive motivation to make her work smart as well as diligently to earn those degrees.
“It really is hard to narrow it down to a select few, the people that have truly influenced me professionally and personally. From CEOs to growers and marketers, there are a lot of industry peers that I respect and admire,” Lisa says.
When I ask her if she takes her brands personally, Lisa tells me that her investment isn’t just the time she spends at the office. “I believe in each product I choose to take into Edge’s fold,” Lisa says. When there is a perfect fit, it’s a win-win for everyone.
“So, what’s the takeaway?” I ask Lisa, at the end of our conversation.
‘Well, if you are me,” she laughs, “Take everything seriously. And give everything you’ve got with passion.”