2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Taylor Martin

Age: 38

Vice President
Foster Caviness
Colfax, NC

Hometown: College Station, TX
Hobbies: Being a Dad, Hunting, Fishing, Dog Training, Growing Wine
Family/Community: Married, 2 children, White Memorial Presbyterian Church, Texas A&M University Association of Former Students, Root Elementary PTA, Ducks Unlimited, Coombsville Vintners & Growers
Motto in life: “The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.” — Albert Einstein

Martin has shown continuous growth throughout his career in the produce industry, boasting knowledge of the produce industry from both farm and distribution leadership. He is third generation, and grew up immersed in the business. Throughout college, he spent summers working at his family’s farm, and interned with Wilbur Ellis as a crop consultant intern. The following year, he worked on the 2007 Farm Bill as an intern at the United Fresh Produce Association (now IFPA). From there, he was recruited by FreshPoint/Sysco and began his post-collegiate career in distribution via the company’s management training program.

After a year, he was accepted into the FreshPoint Leadership Development Program and promoted to vice president operations at FreshPoint Charlotte. He led FreshPoint Charlotte for a little over four years, and built a team that helped them become one of the higher-performing operating companies. In 2014, he took a short break from produce, but within two years, he found himself with a unique opportunity to get back into ag as the managing partner at Italics Winegrowers in Napa, CA.

His desire to move closer to family in North Carolina led him into produce distribution in 2020 with Foster Caviness as business development manager. After six months, he was promoted to lead the company’s supply chain team, managing procurement, wholesale sales and supply chain programs. In 2022, he was promoted to vice president and joined the executive team. Currently, he leads the sales, operations, transportation, and supply chain/procurement teams, working to grow market share and diversify the client base by offering a wider range of services, such as aggregation/consolidation, import clearing, last-mile delivery, retail and wholesale contract management and repacking/grading.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
The people aspect of leadership carried a learning curve I still find myself riding periodically. Periods of intensity define the produce business and my inexperience in holding people accountable or dealing with conflict created some challenging situations early in my career. Great mentors and experience have helped me improve, but the most important thing time has taught me is perspective. The learning process never ends when it comes to building a team, collaborating with others, and holding people accountable.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
Without question, I am most proud of the people I’ve helped earn promotions into leadership. Having a positive impact on someone’s career trajectory or general wellbeing is undeniably the most gratifying part of my job.

Q: What do you see as a critical issue facing the industry in the next decade and why?
The cost of doing business has increased dramatically, as the labor market, non-durable inputs (water, fuel, fertilizer), and transportation/warehousing assets become more costly. Increased costs are driving innovations in automation and it’s going to be interesting to see how things continue to shift over the next several years. I’m intrigued to see how the smaller players in the industry weather this sustained increase in costs over the intermediate/long term. As these costs trickle down through the supply chain, the cost of shrink, rejections, and product availability gaps become more financially impactful.