2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Conner O’Malley

Domex Superfresh Growers, LLC
Yakima, WA

Age: 30
Hometown: Selah, WA
Hobbies: Running, Hiking, Camping, Gardening
Family/Community: Married
Motto in life: Control what you can control, and always do your best.

Appointed president at 29, O’Malley has steered Superfresh Growers through two back-to-back, post-pandemic crop challenges, showcasing not just resilience, but an unwavering commitment to success. He is known for his unmatched work ethic and his visionary approach — always planning ahead with people, customers and growers in mind. O’Malley began as an intern in accounting in 2014 and worked in a handful of different roles in the company including: sales assistant/export cherry intern; account manager from May 2016 through August 2021; sales manager/director of cherry sales from August 2021 through November 2022; and finally president from December 2022 through the present.

During his career, he has been recognized as Superfresh Growers Employee of the Year in 2021, and he oversaw the largest Superfresh cherry seasons, leading Superfresh Growers to be the largest cherry grower, and led the company to record sales. He was an IFPA Emerging Leaders Program Graduate in 2019.

In his role as president, he oversees sales, marketing and operations in this sixth-generation company, which annually produces and markets millions of boxes of fresh fruit. Throughout his tenure, he has closely collaborated with major accounts, establishing himself as an expert in the retail and foodservice produce businesses. Embracing a servant-leadership approach, he has fostered a team-centric mindset at Superfresh Growers, empowering teammates, growers, and customers.

Q: What is the one thing in your business that you are most passionate about?

I am most passionate about finding strategic alignment with our partners, both on the farming and retail side of the business. In this industry, we nearly always possess shared goals, and driving transparent dialogue that allows partnerships to grow and strengthen in the effort to drive value for the land and the end consumer is what I am most passionate about in our business.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?

I would have to say learning the business of retail and how our customers operate. I finally learned how our business operated, and then once I started managing retail accounts, I had to learn an entirely different business model. It wasn’t until I understood the basics of retail that I could come up with solutions that drive mutual wins for the grower and retailer. Having the ability to think collaboratively alongside our retail partners has been important in serving many of our customers.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?

The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about increasing consumption is our growing segments of population. We need to be providing our best eating experience to the customer in all customer segments, not only retail, to drive people to the department for a product that may not have previously been on their shopping list. One area I believe we can make improvements is in the school system, where a lot of produce finds its way, but may not always be the highest grade or best condition. Those kids are future consumers with buying power.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?

The pandemic changed things more than anything during my career. Global markets were disrupted and our export business suffered, along with many regulatory impacts that created challenges in our operations. All of this adversity has made us stronger.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Winning our company’s employee of the year in 2021. It’s voted on by our peers, and I feel that is the highest honor.