2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Rachel Syngo

Age: 36

Chief Marketing Officer
Melon 1
Punta Gorda, FL

Hometown: Fort Myers, FL
Hobbies: Gardening, Fishing, Traveling with her son to play sports.
Family/Community: Married, 1 son, Caloosa Humane Society
Motto in life: You win some, you learn some.

Syngo is the eighth generation in her family to grow, pack and ship produce. She spent time while growing up and during high school working at the family company, Melon 1. After college, she began a career with Target Corporation, starting as a grocery manager. At the end of her first year, she changed roles to work as a human resources manager for another four years. By 2016, Melon 1 (founded in 1997) was beginning to hit its stride and she was encouraged by her father to return to the farm. She joined the team in a sales position in 2016, working hard to build new relationships with retailers and processors the company hadn’t been working with, and going after accounts the company wasn’t selling directly. By 2017, she had a few sales accounts of her own. In 2018, she became a sales manager and was able to add someone to her team. She was also tasked with focusing on increasing the company’s presence at trade shows and produce councils.

In 2022, she stepped into the chief marketing officer role. Since that time, the company has started working with influencers and increased its social media footprint from 550 followers on Facebook to over 35,000 across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. It also re-launched its website with a large Meet Our Growers section, and an expansive amount of watermelon information designed for consumers. She has worked to get more retail buyers out into the company’s fields, and travels directly to the receiving departments of the company’s largest accounts to interact with quality inspectors.

Her main focus now is marketing watermelons to retailers and consumers. She is actively involved with the Georgia Watermelon Association, serving on the on the board of directors and as its current treasurer. She also serves on the executive committee of the National Watermelon Association, and the board of directors for the National Watermelon Promotion and Research Board.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
Myself. I got in my own way a lot, due to thinking that I couldn’t gain enough respect to be taken seriously by folks who had been in the industry longer than me. That made me shy away from conversations that needed to happen for me to grow as a person and to increase sales for Melon 1.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?
You cannot sell produce that isn’t there. We know from consumer studies that consumers like to see an abundance of produce displayed for them to select the perfect watermelon, tomato or zucchini that they’re looking for. If we want to sell more, we have to have more at the point of sale.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
I am proud of the people I have brought into our business. I also do a lot of our recruiting for operations managers, farm managers, interns, etc. There is so much opportunity in the business of agriculture, and I am very proud of efforts to bring ag into these folks’ lives.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
Big eyes, big ears, little mouth. My dad taught me that when I was little. There’s so much to learn, and you can’t take it all in, if you’re too busy thinking you already know it all.