icture this: Two brothers at a roadside produce stand in Southern California in 1968. Rod and Bob Grimm at the humblest of beginnings—a small plot of carrots on their parents’ chicken farm in Orange, California. Nearly 48 years later, family-owned and operated Grimmway Farms is driving unprecedented growth across both its conventional and organic categories as one of North America’s largest carrot growers, packers, and shippers.
The founders’ story is rooted in a vision that has been carried through the generations and remains today, the pillar upon which the company bases its business model, “To take care of our customer’s needs every day of the year with consistent quality, service, and competitive pricing.”
These are the words of brothers Rod and Bob Grimm, words they shared with their sons Brandon, Brett, and Bryan who have now taken their seats at the Grimmway table to grow the legacy that their fathers could only have envisioned so many years ago.
“I always knew I wanted to come into the family business. In the ten years that I have been with Grimmway, I have watched the company evolve, and what makes me even more proud, is that I have a role in it,” Brandon Grimm tells me.
Brandon and Brett are the sons of Founder Bob Grimm. Brandon currently holds the position of General Manager of Organic Operations and Brett is positioned in Organic Sales. Bryan Grimm is the son of Founder Rod Grimm and Product Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest. As Grimmway looks to the future, these three are at the forefront of the company’s legacy and are learning the business from the ground up.
Ten years ago, Brandon started with Grimmway after receiving his business degree at Concordia University, Irvine. He began by working in the company’s organic baby carrot operation and from there eventually took over operations for the frozen division. Recently, Brandon became the GM for Grimmway’s Organic Division, which includes Grimmway’s Cal-Organic Vegetable company. As GM, Brandon oversees various activities taking place between the organic baby carrot facility and Cal-Organic facility in Bakersfield, California, essentially managing receiving through shipping. Brandon brings a spirited approach to his role and the business with a work ethic that really sets a standard.
Bryan is an extremely passionate and driven individual, like his cousins. In a lot of ways, Bryan is that “thinking outside the box” guy, bringing new perspectives and viewpoints to issues and tasks that you probably wouldn’t consider on the regular. While I talk to Bryan, he is currently residing in the Tri-cities area that he calls home for part of the year as he works at Grimmway’s production facility in Washington. But, Bryan has covered a lot of ground in his first 25 years on earth. He graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management, where he also studied Spanish. Bryan worked for Congressman Kevin McCarthy to better understand how the system worked, essentially how the political environment affects the business environment. After a short stint he decided to refocus his career and ended up working on a family friend’s avocado farm in Peru. Bryan played a pivotal role in building the infrastructure, central purchasing system, and logistics capabilities. This is where Bryan gained the experience he wanted—boots on the ground—to make his way to Grimmway.
If Brandon and Bryan are the problem solvers, Brett is thepeople person. Brett attended Arizona State University to earn an Ag Business degree and, without fail, came back to work at Grimmway each summer in everything from quality assurance to carrot sales; which eventually led him to his current role in organic sales. He truly is a people person. The level of caring and compassion he brings to the table has helped him build the kinds of relationships that are at the core of Grimmway’s business. His continued commitment to the growth of the company and the support of those core values, have made him an asset to the Grimmway team. Whether that is investing in the people internally who make the machine run, or driving the brand to the buyer and establishing a relationship of trust and loyalty, Brett is your guy. While only a year and a half in, he, like Brandon and Bryan, has that Grimmway spirit stitched deeply into his history and the passion for Grimmway’s people and his family.
“It is the people that make this business work. If you don’t have people putting sprinkler pipes in the field, then you don’t have water for your product and then everything comes to a grinding halt,” Brett says.
“We all play an important role here, from the field to the packing house, and we respect the role that each member plays.”
It is easy to see that Grimmway is built around pillars that value hard work, integrity, passion, and community – something the Grimm family has had embedded in their lives since they were children, and then as teenagers working summers at the company.
Brandon tells me that their standard of quality is what has helped the company evolve into, and remain, a growing, relevant company over the years. “It is a good thing to be known for,” he smiles. “We want to get the best and most consistent product to customers and take the reputation my dad and uncle created and continue building the brand.”
So what does the future of Grimmway look like? The company is always looking at its impact on the land and the sustained growth that can dictate its future. Whether that is through proprietary water and energy saving technologies, or embracing new strategies for upping productivity on the farm.
“Grimmway’s research and development projects will ensure that we are as effective and efficient as we can be with land utilization,” Brandon adds.
In addition, Grimmway is always looking to new items to get buyers excited and keep the customer engaged and interested. Take the launch of organic rainbow baby carrots for example, to engage those consumers and chefs who eat with their eyes as much as with their palates.
And it doesn’t stop there. Grimmway’s Cal-Organic armcontinues to research and develop new varieties of organic vegetables and organic products that complement the company’s lineup.
Consider TRUE Organic, Grimmway’s super-premium organic juice line, an example of this constant drive for differentiation. With this latest move, the company is growing its stronghold in produce and creating its own niche in the super premium juice category.
If you ask the Grimmway team, they are always looking for new, innovative products and packaging that will benefit their customers and consumers.
“Baby carrots are our bread and butter,” Bryan tells me. “We continue to capture more and more market share but have evolved the company into organics in response to increased demand. Now that Cal-Organic is taking off, we see incredible potential for growth over the next 10-15 years.”
And organic growth is on the rise. Just take a look at some of these stats: the Organic Trade Association reported organic produce sales of $13 billion: $5.7 billion from mass market, $4.7 billion from specialty and natural retailers, and $2.6 billion from direct sales. Since 2011, produce total dollar sales increased by 25 percent.
With numbers like these, the future looks promising.
Bryan tells me that, “The organic program is extensive, with more than 60-plus items at present and gives us an opportunity to branch into new food trends which are driving more organic produce to the center of the plate. It is all about building excitement.”
The company also expanded its organic and conventional growing operations in recent years into the Tri-cities area of Washington State where they are growing baby carrots.
“This is a big stepping stone for us as we enter our third year of growing,” Bryan tells me. “Now, we can cut, clean, and pack baby carrots instead of shipping them back down to our Bakersfield operations.”
The Grimm family has always had the goal of remaining deeply involved in every aspect of the business, from visiting the processing facilities, meeting with every employee semi-annually, to assuring that every product meets the strictest quality standards.
The story behind Grimmway is as innovative as it is personal, to all the members involved.
“To be a part of that legacy is a true gift. People connect more with a product if there is a face and story and a life behind it, and that is what we strive to do each day,” Brett tells me.
While the company is concentrating on its growth models, product innovation, field technology advancements, and continuing to build a loyal customer base; Grimmway is also continuing to grow its programs to give back to the community. Brandon adds that the employees are really the ones that have built Grimmway into the company it is today.
They are the thread that holds the fabric together.
Positioned for growth, Brandon, Bryan, and Brett Grimm are now helping to write that next chapter in this family legacy.
One passionate word, one baby carrot, and one generation at a time.