2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Molly Tabron

Director of Supply
Robinson Fresh
Eden Prairie, MN

Age: 39
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Hobbies: Photography, Spending time outside with family and friends, Kids sports
Family/Community: Married, 2 children, Grace Church in Eden Prairie Welcome Team and children’s programming
Motto in life: Two things you are in total control of in life are your attitude and your effort.

Tabron’s entry point at Robinson Fresh was in 2006 as a replenishment analyst, where she learned to forecast and later procure citrus for a major retail account. When the opportunity arose to collaborate more closely with growers in 2007, she seized it, and her focus shifted from citrus to melons. By 2010, she was leading the team as the category manager for melons. In this role, she strategized and procured for the category, as well as also leveraged the company’s commercial analytics teams to use data to empower its growers. Inspired by her vision, the leader of commercial analytics proposed an innovative new role in 2012 as commodity analyst.

Her journey continued through finance and internal analytics, leading the company’s internal performance team in 2015 and later as a senior commodity analyst in 2018, which afforded her the opportunity to build and launch a planning software for Robinson Fresh. She also led the vision and development of the company’s internal reporting suite, produced Insights Papers for 30 different commodities, and conducted primary research to better understand consumer behavior in fresh produce. The combination of experience in product procurement and analytics, alongside a proven track record for developing high-performing teams, led to her current role as director of supply for Robinson Fresh in 2020. She is responsible for the grower base and supply teams across all fresh produce categories. She also serves as the company’s expert in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). She is an active volunteer through several of C.H. Robinson’s ERGs, with a focus on minority student groups, women and high-potential young professionals.

Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?

As a child, I watched my dad and later my uncle work tirelessly growing fresh produce for local distribution. Their dedication left a permanent mark on me. I didn’t initially set out to work in the fresh produce industry; my background in finance and marketing led me to a role that turned out to be a perfect fit.

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

One of my greatest passions lies in using data to inform strategic business decisions.

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

One of the most effective ways to boost consumption is by ensuring fresh produce remains affordable for a wider audience. What truly excites me is the potential unlocked through innovations in supply chain efficiency and technology, specifically aimed at enhancing shelf life.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?

The impact of technology on the produce industry over the last 17 years has been remarkable. Hydroponics, although not new, alongside a wide array of other indoor growing formats, has experienced rapid growth in the U.S., allowing fresh produce to be grown in urban environments. Enhanced food safety relies on data exchange, enabling rapid tracing of products. Meanwhile, GPS technology, satellite imagery, and AI automation are revolutionizing farming practices. Amid all of this change, our goal remains the same: to produce high-quality fruits and vegetables that nourish people, making sure they have it when and where they need it.