Tony Wisdom, along with fellow Partners Norm Nelson Jr. and Jim Nelson, is thrilled with the results of Sterling Hill Farms’ first year of business in Washington’s Skagit Valley and is looking forward to continued success and business growth in 2014. “We wish to thank all of our customers for supporting us in our inaugural year,” he told The Produce News. “The partnerships we develop with our customers are an integral part of our holistic marketing program and the key to our long term success.”
Sterling Hill Farms opened their doors for business on March 1, 2013. The three partners have over 75 years of potato growing, packing and shipping experience. The vertically integrated company, headquartered in Burlington, WA, grows, packs, ships and markets premium quality conventional red, yellow and white potatoes.
Production this season is expected to be in full swing around Sept. 1.
Although Wisdom said spring weather this production season was a bit dicey, “We planted all intended acres by our targeted deadline. Since that, the weather here in the Skagit Valley has been perfect for our potatoes.”
He expects volume during 2014 will be on par with 2013 production.
“A perfect balance of red, yellow and white potatoes,” Wisdom stated. “The quality of our crop at this stage of the season is as good as we’ve seen in years, including last year when we had fantastic quality throughout the entire shipping season on all colors.”
In addition to domestic sales, Sterling Hill Farms is developing business relationships offshore. “We did export some product in 2013 and are planning on additional volumes of export over the course of the 2014 shipping season,” Wisdom commented. “The receiving customer commented on how unusually good the quality was after the journey.”
Wisdom said it is important to maximize transportation efficiencies.
“We’ve been developing and utilizing strategic and innovative ways to ship our product around the country at very competitive pricing as compared to the more mainstream modes of transportation,” he explained. “Our intense focus on product quality in the packingshed underscores the idea that as close to 100 percent of the potatoes in every package are saleable. Shrink is next to zero, which goes a long way in offsetting transportation expenses.”
Sterling Hill Farms works with its customers to meet their individual needs on an as needed/requested basis with its programs. “These programs are customer-centric and are producing positive results,” Wisdom noted.
In addition to its standard packaging mix, Sterling Hill Farms plans to add five-pound poly bags for red and yellow potatoes this season.