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Seizing Opportunity: A Q&A With Brian Miller, Director of Business Development, Prime Time International

Seizing Opportunity: A Q&A With Brian Miller, Director of Business Development, Prime Time International

"How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it."

It’s a surprising entry on a website espousing inspirational quotes for businesses. As a Brazilian novelist and lyricist, Paulo Coelho might not strike many as an immediate source of motivation for fresh produce vets. Even if the connection is tenuous in your mind, you can probably relate to a missed opportunity or a path not chosen, and subsequently regretting it.

Perhaps the quote’s resonance stems from a simple truth. Fear will dog your steps, no matter how hard you try to shake it loose or your desire to live fully. Fear will influence growth in the only way it knows how: negatively.

I know each opportunity for expansion in our industry is weighed heavily. No one is rushing into something without going over the details with a fine-toothed comb. I attribute a lot of this thoughtfulness to the family-oriented messaging of most companies in agriculture; the understanding that too many people’s livelihoods rest on a decision for it to be made with haste.

Prime Time International saw such an opportunity when it added a new asparagus program to its portfolio, one that has seen tremendous growth in just a few short years. Spearheaded by Brian Miller and Fabian Sojos, Director of Grower Relations, this program is a testimony to implementing operational success across multiple channels.

Settle in as Brian, the Director of Business Development, and I reveal how this opportunity came to be.

Anne Allen: Brian, I can remember first reporting on Prime Time’s asparagus program when it began a few years ago. Since then, it’s already seen substantial growth. Tell me, what drove the decision to add this category to your portfolio?

Brian Miller, Director of Business Development, Prime Time International: Over the years, Prime Time has been a premium grower, packer, and shipper of a variety of fresh produce items. Some of those items have been staples in our product lineup, while others have been seasonal novelties. Colored peppers have remained the primary superstars since day one, but it was time to share the spotlight.

Mini peppers became part of the mix for Prime Time nearly 10 years ago, and our asparagus debuted in 2017. This trio of products is now the backbone of the product line. The strength of Prime Time’s customer and grower relationships showed true alignment and opportunity for success. Several of our bell pepper and mini pepper partners in Mexico also grow asparagus; the seasonality is complementary and the two crops pair well together. Likewise, peppers and asparagus fit nicely with the customer relationships Prime Time has built and nurtured over the past three decades.

AA: I love when opportunities like this read like the stars aligning. It all came together so well. As this program developed, what were some defining moments that let you know you had a good thing going?

BM: The commitment and dedication to build the Prime Time asparagus category was a twofold effort from the ownership, Mike Way and Jeff Taylor, as well as myself. When I came to Prime Time in the spring of 2017 with my own knowledge of the asparagus business, I also brought my experience and a number of relationships.

As the category rapidly grew into an extremely successful venture for Prime Time, it became apparent that asparagus was here to stay.

AA: It sounds like a match made in heaven! When you speak about the asparagus program to buyers, what else do you tell them that signifies the company’s differentiation?

BM: Year-round availability of both organic and conventional asparagus has been a key component in Prime Time’s growth. Both retailers and consumers love seamless programs, so we knew it was important to respond to a common need in the marketplace.

We’ve also seen exciting growth opportunities through an expanded distribution model, with operations in both McAllen, Texas, and Miami, Florida.

AA: You’ve got an impressive thing going here. Where do you see the program headed in the future?

BM: Prime Time is focused on advancing quality and strategic production windows to better service customer needs. With the addition of Fabian and an office in Miami, Florida, we began sourcing asparagus from Peru to complement the program in Mexico.

Fabian has worked tirelessly to fill the gaps in our existing production to help Prime Time become a year-round asparagus shipper. With consistent supply, Prime Time is a much more valuable partner to its customer base, a vital lesson learned from shipping peppers 365 days a year for over a quarter of a century. Overall, we see tremendous opportunity and growth ahead.

“Year-round availability of both organic and conventional asparagus has been a key component in Prime Time’s growth.”

Brian Miller, Director of Business Development, Prime Time International

Since its inception, this program has proven that opportunities should be grasped by the horns. Once synonymous with bell peppers, Prime Time’s name now evokes both that crunchy veg and the speared stalk of asparagus. Where would we be if fear had prevented this from happening? Arguably, in a much less interesting world.

So next time you come across a Paulo Coelho novel, take a beat. You might find inspiration to tackle your own opportunity the way the Prime Time team has so beautifully done theirs.