2020 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Brett Britz

Age: 29
Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Sunwest Fruit Company, Inc.
Parlier, CA

Coming from a third-generation farming family, Britz started working at Sunwest in 2011 after graduating from UC Irvine. He began in a sales assistant type role gathering samples, doing order entry, and monitoring inventories. About a year later, he moved into sales where he was mostly involved in new account acquisition. Eventually, he was given a few house accounts, which he continues to manage. During his time in sales, he has grown business with key retail accounts and has been instrumental in new protocols and procedures within sales/production to enable efficiencies within the company. In 2015, he transitioned into a role where he served as a liaison to provide direction for sales, harvest, and packing in addition to handling certain key accounts. He was also involved in varietal selection for future plantings on both citrus and stone fruit and new equipment purchases to drive packaging innovation and mechanize packing. He was promoted to the position of vice president, sales and marketing in 2019, where he manages more than $150 million of fresh fruit sales annually. He also oversees procurement of packaging material and is responsible for all new product development.

Hobbies: Fitness, Cooking, Sports

Personal/Community: Works with Collaborative for Fresh Produce

Motto in life: “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
It’s not what you don’t know that will hurt you, it’s what you don’t know that you think you know.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
I’m an introvert and being involved in sales forced me to get outside my comfort zone when I began cold calling customers.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
I helped our company win Produce Supplier of the Year with one of our key partners.

Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?
More diversity.

Q: What do you think the industry can do to promote more produce consumption?
Provide innovative packaging.

Q: What are some of the more challenging aspects of a career in the produce industry today?
It’s a 24/7 business, which makes work/life balance challenging.

Q: What was the “aha” moment when you knew the produce industry was the best choice for you?
When I realized I wake up every day and am excited to head into the office.

Q: What do you see as the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?
Water. Additional mechanization will likely come, but water technology has a long way to go to solve the issues facing farming in certain areas of the country.

Q: How has the industry (or you) changed during your tenure?
I am seeing more diversity in the workforce than when I first started and I find that to be a very exciting thing. I’m hopeful for greater diversity as we continue to progress as an industry.

Q: What has shocked or surprised you about the produce industry?
How small of a community it really is. The fruit and vegetable world, for feeding as many people as we do, is a very tiny world.