September 1, 2023

Sowing Seeds of Leadership

Perfecting the art of seeing things from all perspectives takes an incredible amount of skill and empathy, but having firsthand knowledge of these varying viewpoints contributes to a well-rounded comprehension of the complete picture. Such is the case for Timothy Escamilla.

Like many who find themselves working in agriculture today, Timothy got his introduction to farming because of his family. “My parents, my uncles, my aunts and basically my entire family were always working in agricultural production, so I didn’t really know anything else,” he said.

He recalls his first job as a general laborer, thinning and weeding iceberg lettuce in Watsonville, among others. “I’ve never had a job outside of agriculture, whether it was sweeping up a bus yard where labor buses were parked, or cleaning the office of an agricultural service business, or working in admin, every company I ever collected a paycheck from was an ag service provider or ag producer.”

Timothy received his MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and 20-plus years later, his journey is a true testament to the old adage “hard work pays off.” He now sits as President of Bolthouse Farms, Farming Division, a position he’s held since Spring.

Bolthouse Farms, which was founded in 1915, is one of the largest carrot growers and distributors in the U.S. The company was in search of a leader to head up its fresh carrot business to drive profit and sustainability for future growth, and Timothy knew he was the man who could do the job.

According to Timothy, any company that can endure for over a century requires three attributes. “It has to have a product that transcends generations. Carrots were needed several hundred years ago and will be needed hundreds of years from now. The company also has to have an outstanding product and great customer service. And in order for a product to transcend generations, you need to have quality people, and Bolthouse had all of those things,” he said.

Among his many skills, Timothy possesses a natural talent for establishing meaningful connections with employees and guiding them toward success. “The people involved in the production and supply chain of fresh food have an incredible amount of energy and pride. It’s our duty to elevate the workforce by teaching them how to do a job, rewarding their efforts and giving them opportunities to grow beyond that, because remember, that’s where I started.”

Timothy recalls a story of running into a former employee whom he helped sponsor to become a citizen. It had been 15 years, but the employee had recognized Timothy in the field and, with his family in tow, pulled over to talk to him. “He wanted me to meet his wife and children. He told them who I was and that because I believed in him and taught him to work hard and stay focused and committed, he was able to meet his wife and create a good life for himself. He believed it was directly related to my support and belief in him, and it’s been rewarding for me to watch someone develop and grow and take advantage of opportunities.”

For Timothy, effectively communicating shared goals, from the front line all the way to the back office, enhances everyone’s potential for success. “It’s important to make sure everyone understands how their specific roles contribute to delivering high-quality fresh carrots to our customers every day. That’s the great thing about agriculture production. There’s tremendous intrinsic value in what we do.”

That higher sense of purpose is one of the reasons why Timothy wanted to become involved with Western Growers, where he now serves as a member of the Board. “It’s important for us to maintain and protect agricultural production and everyone involved. We’re not just representing our own interests; we’re also representing our communities.”