Unlike many others working in the agriculture industry, Matt Jones was not born into a family of farmers. Though born and raised in Salinas, known as the “salad bowl of the world,” Jones was not raised in the fields. However, he vividly remembers his father working for various ag-related businesses, including Western Growers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business at California State University, Fresno, Jones began his career with Kroger where he was able to gain extensive knowledge in the produce industry as a produce inspector, transportation manager and senior commodity buyer. While with Kroger, he established a solid network of contacts in the industry and procured more than 100 different commodities, while juggling other responsibilities.
When asked what he enjoys most about working in the agricultural industry, Jones responded, “The fast-paced nature of the business. It’s always changing! You never stop learning in this industry. What’s most fascinating is the evolution of commodity markets and what it takes to keep track of the changes.”
Jones joined the Western Growers Membership team as industry relations manager in October 2018, making him the first and only person with this unique title at the association. In this role, he is the point of contact for both Central Valley members as well as prospective members, providing them with Western Growers resources to support their needs.
Additionally, being based in Fresno, he is easily accessible to a majority of Western Growers members as he is a close drive to most of California’s specialty crop production regions. He has made it a mission to not only expand membership, but to retain existing members, making sure they are happy with the services they receive. During his first two months with Western Growers, Jones met with more than 50 existing members and worked diligently to recruit more.
“Matt’s extensive experience in the produce industry and exceptional ability to connect and understand the challenges our members face, make him the perfect addition to our team” said Kim Sherman, Western Growers’ director of membership. “His presence in the Central Valley has provided our members, in the Central Valley area and surrounding areas, with direct access to the services and support that will allow them to continue to feed the region, nation and world.”
With just over four months at the company, Jones continues to exceed expectations. His commitment to the growth of the association is displayed through his hard work. He said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is knowing he is providing quality services to members, enhancing their competitiveness and profitability and contributing to their success. As a veteran in the industry with a substantial amount of knowledge, Jones understands there is plenty more to learn, not only about the association but about the members as well.
“I am extremely proud and honored to be a part of the Western Growers team,” he said. “The company’s employees are all first class and this organization is well represented with a trusted brand for 92 years. I have a passion for produce and the industry relations manager position allows me to network, build relationships and make a difference with growers within all fields of the produce industry.”