PARMA, ID — When sales agent Cheryl Leavitt recently quoted her father, she voiced the overarching philosophy of Champion Produce Sales and its entire team.
“He would tell us, ‘If it needs done, do it,’ “ Ms. Leavitt said. Champion Vice President Dwayne Fisher said, “We believe that work ethic is what sets us apart. All of us grew up on farms, and that background has translated to how we work in this office.”
The ethic extends to care and pride in the company’s “All-American Winners,” on-ions from the Treasure Valley.
Onions grown in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon production area come from operations that are the “safest and most reliable.”
“From technology to overall practices and from farms to packing, we provide “the highest quality in the world,” he said.
Pride is not the only standard by which the company gauges its onions.
“We have dealt with imports,” Mr. Fisher said. “We have seen the inconsistencies. And we have also been personally involved in agriculture through several generations.”
He continued, “We don’t just come from successful family farms. We also come from farms that have sacrificed, and that sacrifice has added to our passion and to our success.”
Company President John Wong agreed, noting that individuals who’ve been instilled with solid values and a strong work ethic approach difficulties head-on.
“Once we’re given an opportunity, we tend to run with it,” he said. “But it’s not a given. People in this industry decide to take the opportunity that some might call a risk.”
At Champion Produce Sales, “Everyone has the same goal,” said sales agent Ross Sevy. “We are one big team.”
And Ms. Leavitt said, “We do take great pride in having quality product. That is the goal, and it starts on the farm. In the shed we do a good job to make sure it remains a good product.”
Tied both physically and financially to farming and packaging, Champion Produce Sales has been a part of the changing world of sales and shipping.
“Physically, there has been computerization, and farms all have GPS-navigated tractors and spraying,” Mr. Wong said. “They leave a smaller carbon footprint and are more efficient.”
Mr. Fisher added that each of the company’s three growing operations — Champion Produce, Giant Produce and Tamura Farms — has been able to upgrade in synch, but he said, “It’s been very structured, and we haven’t tried to jump into things.”
With their knowledge of farming, the Champion Produce Sales team is able to provide buyers with additional information.
“It’s very common every five years or so for buyers to move up or move on, and we often educate new buyers in the differences between storage and fresh onions. That’s fine, because that’s what we can do,” Mr. Wong said.
The group can also explain advancing technology to buyers as well.
“My husband gets an e-mail if the pivot gets stuck or water pressure changes [in the irrigation system],” Ms. Leavitt said. And Mr. Wong said an application for his smartphone can change the temperature in the storage facility.
“It’s a world of apps,” he observed.
Each of the Champion team members has children, some of whom represent the next generation of growers and shippers.
Mr. Wong’s 19-year-old son is now doing “hard manual labor” on the farm, and Ms. Leavitt’s older son is showing an interest in agriculture. Mr. Fisher said his oldest son “would definitely like to be on the farm,” and all six of his youngsters are involved in 4-H.