Can you jump with wild abandon and call it a strategy?
The demand-to-growth cycle is one as perpetual as the chicken and the egg, each necessitating the other but ever debated on which must come first—or so I thought. Within moments of discussing this riddle, Quinton Woods points out that you can’t sell what you do not have.
In illustrating the core of the innovative path Gwillimdale Farms has blazed for itself, the company’s Senior Sales and Plant Operations Manager paints me a picture of trust and fearless curiosity. Leadership works on the ground level and leaps at ideas, which come together to form a versatile portfolio, an international reach, and a vision of the future we all desperately need these days—one that discards failure as an option for the sheer disadvantage it poses to possibility.
QW: Gwillimdale is constantly developing our year-round program on root vegetables. We are now able to offer our retailers four out of five commodities year-round, with our potatoes being offered for 10 months out of the year. However, that is not all we have been working on. When we began our Mexican deal, our partners were also broccoli growers, which gave us a chance to diversify our program and gave us a strong start in a category they already knew well.
We started out by offering iced broccoli crowns. Now, we have developed a wrapped broccoli program. This has further diversified our offerings by adding those extra couple of pallets onto the truck to offer mixed loads. At the same time, retailers have the opportunity to cut down traffic at their warehouses by streamlining the vehicles they need to fill out their orders.
QW: Bringing our current expertise to the table enabled us to expand an already existing program. When we moved into our Mexican product, broccoli crowns was a category we inherited and, traditionally, it is heavily volatile. We wanted to make moves to control volatility and offer retailers a product that would last longer on their shelves while looking more attractive to the consumer.
Then COVID-19 was thrown into the mix, prompting consumers to want individually packed products more than ever. Offering our standard 20 lb iced broccoli crowns and a 20 count carton of wrapped crowns from September through June, similar to our standardized broccoli offerings, met these needs and continues to give retailers consistency and quality throughout the year.&
“We wanted to make moves to control volatility and offer retailers a product that would last longer on their shelves while looking more attractive to the consumer.”
Quinton Woods, Senior Sales and Plant Operations Manager, Gwillimdale Farms
QW: We started out packing Jumbo carrots primarily, and over the next couple of years we gradually transitioned into a program more strongly based on our retail quality Cello carrots. Now, we just installed another Cello packaging machine this year, which will increase our volume to an average of four to six loads of Cellos per day, virtually doubling our capacity. This steady growth as our retail business expands prompts us to continue to develop new avenues for opportunities to ensure we never have to say no, which really outlines our growth strategy overall.
QW: While we are a large company, the ones making the decisions are on the floor. We see what is going on, and we have the ability to make decisions and take action with knowledge and trust due to our structure. As a result, we often expand in a year where it would take others three to five. We are always ensuring that we grow consistently, both physically and categorically, whether it’s our SKUs or our retail partnerships. We focus on those partnerships rather than just making the next sale.
Our philosophy has always been along the lines of “if you build it they will come.” Like the chicken versus the egg, everything has to start somewhere. Nothing happens overnight, and we have maintained our visionary thinking by making what can be perceived as “crazy” investments—you can always sell an investment, but you can’t sell what doesn’t exist.
QW: We offer clear, consistent labeling throughout the year. Continuity is key, and a transition in locations doesn’t disrupt what the customer is seeking at the store, so the labels they are familiar with should be there waiting for them. No matter the country of origin, there is a recognizable Gwillimdale bag on the shelf, ensuring that we have done our due diligence across all operations. Our team works very hard to ensure our retailers’ customers get the quality product they expect not only in the spring, but all year long.
“In addition to our category versatility, we provide the same high level of service and attention to every account individually. There is no one, whether a large chain or a local business, that does not get to experience the Gwillimdale Difference.”
QW: First of all, we specialize in mixed loads. We can ship beets, carrots, and broccoli on a single truck from our cold storage facility in McAllen, Texas. As for our Canadian deal, we can ship carrots, onions, beets, potatoes, and parsnips on a single load to provide good mixed loads for smaller wholesalers and smaller retailers. In addition to our category versatility, we provide the same high level of service and attention to every account individually. There is no one, whether a large chain or a local business, that does not get to experience the Gwillimdale Difference.
With forethought and a willingness to learn from a mishap rather than miss an opportunity, Gwillimdale Farms and those it serves are reaping the benefits of a whimsical savvy that bridges innovative ideas with boundless imagination, morphing its “impossible” challenges into attainable actions.
Can you jump with wild abandon and call it a strategy?