FRESNO, CA — Wyatt Torosian, 21-year-old son of Atomic Torosian, a partner in Crown Jewels Produce Co. here, joined the company on the sales desk on Sept. 21, about nine months after graduating from the University of California-Los Angeles.
He is the second member of the second generation in the company. Robbie Mathias Jr., son of Rob Mathias, also a partner in Crown Jewels, is also in sales and has been for several years.
Mr. Torosian told The Produce News that in addition to doing sales, “I am also assisting with business development.
While in college, he also spent thesummer of 2010 working at Crown Jewels, so he already had some familiarity with the company, but the first few months after coming on board full time last fall were “a crash course,” he said. “Coming from a family with a produce background, I had a base knowledge of what certain commodities and varieties are” and what their seasons are. But “since September, it has really been interesting to learn about the vast, vast complexities of the industry.”
That intensive learning experience has been enhanced by “being with this team with so much combined experience,” Mr. Torosian said. “It has been very eye-opening to see truly where product comes from and where it grows.”
Crown Jewels is involved with a wide array of commodities, which it sources globally and markets internationally, and it is the international aspects of the business that appeal most to Mr. Torosian, whose majors at UCLA were political science and international relations.
“My interest with the produce business has more to do with the international side of the business,” said Mr. Torosian, who completed his bachelor’s degree at UCLA in just two years and one quarter, graduating at age 20. “Throughout my education, that has always been my focus. We are an increasingly interconnected world, and I feel like it would behoove all of us in the produce business to learn a little more about other countries and their preferences for the products.”
American products “always hold a great amount of currency around the world,” he continued. “So it is excellent for us to learn about what other people want and how we can provide it to them.”
That is, of course, true “in the domestic market as well,” he added. “Of course, our domestic market is always going to be our number one market. There is always going to be a high demand domestically for our labels and our products. I have been learning about that, too, and the complexity of different regions of the country, their different preferences, different seasons, what certain stores want, what certain customers desire.”
Mr. Torosian is currently involved in both domestic and international sales. On the international side, he said, “I am assisting with our sales to the Pacific Rim and Australia, and we are always expanding it to other markets.”
He gets involved on the import side as well. At Crown Jewels, everything is “more of a collaborative effort,” rather than departmentalized. “In all of our efforts, whether it is imports, exports or domestic markets, we all work together.” However, “some of us do have certain specialties, [and] my preference is international.”
If, for example, the company is “importing products from Mexico or Central America,” he said, he holds great interest in “learning about the regulations and the crossings of the border and the certificates — all the minutia.”
There are other areas of the business in which Mr. Torosian feels he can make a contribution as well. “As a member of the younger generation, I realize that this industry like all industries must modernize,” he said. One example of that is the implementation of QR codes, “like we have done. That is a project I implemented across our promotional materials, so the customers can reach our website faster, reach our online materials, and learn more about us.”
Another area in which implementation of technological solutions is important to companies in the produce industry is the ability to track products “from the store display back to the farm it came from,” he said. And that involves more than just food-safety-related traceback capabilities. “Consumers want to know more than ever, these days, about where their food comes from, and it is up to us and all the companies in the industry to provide that information. Consumers are always going to be at the end of our supply chain. They are the ones we are catering to. They are the ones we are working for.”
Also important, he said, is “providing better varieties to the marketplace” that have “longer shelf life, higher yields, better, fuller color, that sort of thing. At Crown Jewels, he said, “we are always changing, always moving forward and providing the best quality product we can.” That is important not just in the produce industry but in all industries, he continued. “But especially if you are working with perishable goods, there is always going to be that wild card aspect to it. That is my philosophy of the produce industry and what contributions I can make to it.”
One might wonder how anyone who has been so immersed first in education and then in the produce industry could find time for anything else, but Mr. Torosian has managed to keep a balance in his life with a broad range of interests, one of which is physical fitness.
“I do like to stay active,” he said. Fitness and health “have become a hobby of mine.” He works out in the gym about four or five days a week, and from September 2011 through April 2012, increased the amount of weight he could press from 145 pounds to 210 pounds. “It’s a good stress reliever, especially after a long day at work,” he said.
“I am always interested in politics, current events, international politics, all those sorts of things,” he said.
Mr. Torosian enjoys fishing. It is something he does mostly on family vacations, but occasionally “at other times as well. Sometimes we just get a houseboat for the day and take friends and family up to Bass Lake or Shaver Lake.”
Shooting is “something I have just started to get more into,” he said. He has participated in several National Rifle Association events. “I got my hunting license” and went deer hunting the past couple of years. And recently, on a visit to Los Angeles, one of his friends suggested they go to a shooting range, something he had not done before. “So we went,” and tried out a lot of different pistols that were available at the range. “They had quite a lineup there.”
Mr. Torosian enjoys music as well, but “strictly as a spectator,” not as a performer. “I love all forms of music, from classical to the modern-day experimental stuff.” When people tell him “I only listen to hip-hop music,” for example, or any other single musical genre, he tells them, “You are limiting yourself.” The greatest musical geniuses have been broad-minded, drawing “their influences from vastly different areas of music” such as “folk and bluegrass and classical and opera,” he said.