Date: Jul 14, 2021
Magazine:
July/August 2021

George Boskovich III, Boskovich Farms and Fresh Prep

By Tim Linden

“When I was in high school, I mentioned to my dad that it would only be a couple more years before I would be working full time for Boskovich Farms,” recalls George Boskovich III, the fourth generation of the family tree involved in agriculture. “But he told me, he wouldn’t hire me unless I had a college education.”

George III, who is not called that except in the office and in this article, moved to Camarillo when he was five years old and ever since assumed he would become an active member of the Boskovich farming team. “It seems my dad (George Boskovich Jr., CEO of Boskovich Farms) always took me to work with him. At least that’s the way I remember it. From an early age I always wanted to work with my dad and figured I would.”

The younger George did go to California State University at Channel Islands, which is the youngest university in the Cal State system. George majored in Business Management and did join Boskovich Farms on a full-time basis in 2005. “My dad started me off in the sales office. He wanted me to learn about each customer and know what products they buy and how they wanted them.”

After about 18 months, George III went into the operations side to gain more knowledge on every aspect of the firm from growing through harvesting, cooling and processing. “I have been involved in many different projects in all aspects of the operation over the years,” he said.

Not too long ago, the Boskovich Farms management team, which includes George III as well as his father and others in the family business, decided to spin off its Fresh Prep division as a stand-alone company. “We did it for a number of reasons,” said George III, who serves as CEO of Fresh Prep while also continuing to wear the hat of vice president at Boskovich Farms. “We wanted to be more nimble and be able to meet consumer demand more easily.”

He said there were also fiscal management reasons, including separating risks on the business side, but first and foremost was the concept of being able to make decisions independent of the farming and commodity operations.

“This is my project,” George says, noting that sometimes the commodity and value-added businesses have to make decisions without considering the impact on each other.

To be sure, Boskovich Fresh Food Group Inc. is the parent company of both Fresh Prep and Boskovich Farms and the two sister companies do have a symbiotic relationship. But Fresh Prep also works with other growers for supplies of its value-added offerings. In 2020, Fresh Prep added a new value-added product line under its new “Fair Earth Farms” brand. The initial line included single-serve and bagged salad kits in 100 percent compostable packaging, and continues to expand.

In 1915, the family farming operation, which would eventually become Boskovich Farms, was started in the Los Angeles area by Stephen Boskovich, who had emigrated to the United States from Croatia in the 1880s. After World War II, Stephen’s three sons—Phil Sr., George Sr. and Joe—took control of the company, expanded it tremendously and started growing green onions, which became Boskovich Farms’ signature crop.

In the 1970s, the third generation joined the fold and today two of those members remain in the top leadership positions. George Jr. is the CEO of Boskovich Farms while Phil Jr. runs the growing operations.

As a member of the fourth generation, George III is joined by cousins Phil III and Bridget (Phil’s kids) rounding out the quintet of Stephen Boskovich’s family tree currently involved in the 105-year-old company.

Today, Boskovich is a well-rounded company with dozens of crops, but George III said green onions are still its number one item. “They represent about 25 percent of what we do.”

The company also has significant involvement in spinach, romaine and cauliflower, with foodservice sales accounting for about half of the business.

George said COVID and the heavy foodservice focus of Boskovich made 2020 a challenging year. “But we got through it and every week it seems like more of our foodservice business is coming back.”

The Fresh Prep CEO knows it is an increasing challenge to farm in California for many well-publicized reasons, but he believes the California ag industry will still be around, in one way or another, to provide opportunities for his children. “There will still be farming in Ventura County for at least another generation,” he predicted. “We may have to change the crops we can grow here, but the Oxnard Plain will still be here,” he said, noting that there has been a moratorium on employing ag land for other uses and he expects that moratorium to be renewed when it soon expires.

George, who turned 40 very recently, spends much of his free time with his family. He and Joanna married in 2014 and have two sons with six-year-old George IV showing an aptitude for golf.

The Short & Sweet

•   Name: George Boskovich III

•   Title: Vice President of Boskovich Farms, CEO of Fresh Prep

•   Namesake: Grandfather George Boskovich Sr. helped build the company that was started by his father, Stephen Boskovich. George Boskovich Jr. is current CEO of Boskovich Farms. And yes, there is a George Boskovich IV, who’s not yet old enough to be part of the fifth generation of the Boskovich family to farm in California…but his time is coming…around the late 2030s.

•   Family: George and his wife, Joanna, have two children: George IV, 6; and Henry, 4.

•   Family Pastime: George Sr., George Jr., and George III are into car collecting, concentrating on those in the Ford family. They have quite a few cars among them including more than a handful of Mustangs.

•   College: George earned his business management degree at nearby California State University at Channel Islands.

•   Fun Fact: “Before I popped the question to my bride, we did have subtle conversations about my intention to name my son, if we had one, George IV. If she didn’t agree that would have been a deal-breaker,” he joked.

•   More Name Games: In the office, his colleagues do call him George3, but when the family gets together there has never been an effort to distinguish among the various “George” generations with cute nicknames. “You can tell by the inflection and the tone of voice which George is being referred to,” he said.

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