When Jim Crecelius founded the Monte Vista Farming Company 30 years ago, he envisioned a more individualized and secure approach to handling almonds that would be achieved through a collaborative partnership between processor and grower.
This vision evolved over the years into the Grower Select Marketing System that the company utilizes today, a system which Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Hoff regarded as the “foundation of everything the company offers to both growers and buyers.”
“We don’t mix or co-mingle any of our growers’ almonds upon arrival,” said Hoff. “We complete preliminary processing, and then provide the grower with an inventory of product available to sell by variety. We then allow the grower to take part in the selling strategy for his or her own crop.”
Hoff said that MVFC has several discussions with each grower leading up to harvest in order to generate a plan that is designed to meet each grower’s specific objectives and that the processing facility does not take title to the product until the grower approves the sale. Once the product is sold, packed and shipped, Hoff said that the MVFC collects proceeds from the buyer, deducts the packing fee and remits the balance to the grower within two days of receipt.
“This model provides flexibility, control and transparency for our growers, but also allows us to offer an unparalleled level of traceability to our customers,” said Hoff. “Unlike many other packers, we do not offer a traditional pool. We only focus on GSMS.”
“It is a very unique system that MVFC has perfected over the last 30 years. It can be tricky to manage at times, but it is the key to everything we do,” added Hoff.
Hoff said that MVFC works collaboratively with approximately 30 local growers and each grower chooses their own level of involvement. While some growers choose to have a high level of involvement with respect to sales and marketing, Hoff said that others prefer to have quarterly discussions regarding their product.
“Without these growers, we would not be able to meet the demands of a growing market,” said Hoff. “Their work in the field is critical in providing not only the volume needed, but the quality products needed to meet the expectation of one of the most discriminating markets in the world.”
Hoff also said that the shelled and inshell almonds that are produced under the MVFC label not only taste good, but they are processed in a way that ensures safety, quality, sustainability and cleanliness.
Through traceability, which is the foundation of MVFC’s food safety programs, employees are able to efficiently isolate and solve problems in order to ensure that customers continue to receive the safest possible product.
MVFC also boasts a quality assurance process that helps employees meet customer expectations, while also presenting a product that goes above and beyond what is expected by the United States Department of Agriculture. Through various methods, the company meticulously tests for aflatoxins, pathogens, yeasts and molds, as well as makes plant upgrades constantly to improve quality.
The processing facility also engages in a number of sustainability measures, including shipping hulls directly to dairies to repurpose as feed, and using recycling plant materials such as plastic bin liners, plastic stock pile tarps and unused packaging supplies.
One way that MVFC ensures cleanliness was demonstrated on Friday as employees took a break from the normal workload of the day in order to thoroughly sanitize everything. This practice is repeated every Friday according to Hoff.
“We use an off day to clean the entire plant. This is a full sanitation,” said Hoff. “We still sanitize everyday between shifts, but not as thoroughly.”
Everything else aside, Hoff said that the core of the plant is the people who work there. MVFC employs approximately 300 people seasonally and he said that he hopes to employ even more employees over longer periods of time as the company continues to grow.
“We’ve got people who have been working here since the company was founded in 1985,” said Hoff. “The average tenure in the office is over 10 years, so from a community perspective I think we’re building a long term company that is going to be around to employ people for the long haul.”
Employee Delmy Baltazar said that she enjoyed her job as a sorter for a number of reasons, one of which was the level of respect she receives from the company and the people around her.
“We all get along so well because we work together all the time,” said Baltazar. “We’re just like a family.”
Monte Vista Farming Company is located at 5043 N. Montpelier Rd., in Denair. For more information on Monte Vista Farming Company, visit montevistafarming.com or call 874-1866.