2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Troy Bland

Age: 38

Chief Executive Officer
Bland Farms
Glennville, GA

Hometown: Reidsville, GA
Hobbies: Fishing, Hunting, University of Georgia football, Golf
Family/Community: Married, 4 children, Pineview Baptist Reidsville and St. Simons Community Church Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Motto in life: Don’t be timid; let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are to reach the goals you have set.

As a third generation, Bland’s passion for his family’s farm and the produce industry has led him to consistently seek innovative ways to advance the industry, both in growth and sustainability. He has enjoyed a lifelong career at Bland Farms, embracing the family farming tradition beginning at age 10. After attending the University of Georgia, he returned home to officially begin his career. Over the years, Bland has taken on numerous roles at the farm, including assets and procurement, quality director, director of operations, and overseeing the packing facilities in Georgia, Peru, Mexico and Texas.

Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, he became chief executive officer in 2021. In this role, he focuses on the impact of long-range growth initiatives, planning, and introducing new strategies and regulatory actions related to innovation to meet customers’ ever-changing needs. His commitment to sustainability resulted in the addition of a state-of-the-art packing facility that maintains a controlled atmosphere from the moment onions come in from the field until they are loaded for delivery — a first in the sweet onion industry. Additionally, Bland Farms added electric forklifts with a computer-controlled facility that further reduces energy use and waste.

His involvement in many industry-related organizations complements his commitment to the produce industry. He was appointed to the FVIAC (Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee) advisory board by then-U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; served on the Georgia REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen), which provides academic and social support to at-risk students; and was past chairperson of the Vidalia Onion Committee. In his most recent role, he serves as an advisor to the Dean of Agriculture at the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?
The most significant change I’ve seen in the industry is the rapid growth in technology. We’re always trying to be on the cutting edge of technology, which drove us to put in our new packing facility two years ago. Having a complete controlled atmosphere facility allows us to precisely control the humidity, airflow, and temperature throughout every stage of the drying and packing process to deliver a better-quality sweet onion with a longer shelf-life consistently. Bland Farms has always been focused on sustainability, and with that aspect of the business growing by leaps and bounds, I’m lucky enough to be able to facilitate new practices that reduce energy use and waste.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
Out of all my accomplishments, knowing my father trusts me to run the company and follow in his and my granddad’s footsteps as chief executive officer makes me the proudest. My grandfather founded the company. My dad grew it exponentially. As the third generation, it is my job to keep up with modern technology and keep our company on the cutting edge.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you started your career?
There’s so much that goes into the process, from planting to harvesting to getting the produce in the stores. It can be easy to set the bar high and expect immediate results. The biggest thing I wish I knew when I started this career is to have patience and think things through before making hasty decisions.