Director, New Business Development
Black Gold Farms: Grand Forks, ND

Years in Produce:

Age: 39

Personal Information:

One daughter

Hobbies: Attending daughter’s gymnastic and soccer events; North Dakota State University football games; running; Rotary International.

Motto in life: Do more of what makes you happy.

Work History: Halverson is a lifetime member of a farming family — a fourth generation potato farmer with her two brothers and father. She worked on the farm (Black Gold Farms) throughout high school and college. After graduating from North Dakota State University and getting her MBA at the University of North Dakota, she decided to pursue a different direction and ended up at an advertising agency, AdFarm in Fargo, ND. She worked as an account manager for about six years on agricultural related accounts. As Black Gold Farms started to expand, there became a need for a more concentrated effort on marketing and communications and she came back to the farm. As director of new business development, she works on solidifying relationships with new and existing customers, and finds new opportunities to market and sell red, yellow and sweet potatoes. She also manages all marketing activities including branding, tradeshows, industry events, promotional programming and social media. She has been involved in several industry organizations including serving on the AgChat Foundation’s board. She was a member of the United Fresh Leadership Program class 20 and was selected to speak on behalf of her class at graduation.

Questions & Answers:

Q: How did you begin working in produce?

Like many others in the industry, I work in my family’s business. My first few jobs were filing and answering phones, weighing trucks and taking quality control samples out of the field. I took some “time off” after collage, and what brought me back, was the need to tell our story about how food (potatoes) were grown. We have always felt we had a special story to tell.

Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?

The biggest thing that I know now is it’s okay not to know everything. There are so many people with specialized skills that we are able to tap into, and it’s okay to do that.

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

What makes me the most proud is getting a new customer. This doesn’t happen overnight, so to break-in is something we don’t take for granted. Being at the right places on a regular basis, knowing the right people, asking the right questions, coming up with value-added solutions, and getting that first PO is the highlight of my job.

Q: What are some of the more challenging aspects of a career in produce today?

One of the most challenging is the ability to be flexible while always working toward that next big thing. A weather event, or a customer/supplier event can railroad your progress. However, as an organization, you cannot let those things sidetrack you from looking at the big picture and moving forward. You have to know there will be bumps and work through them.

Q: What is the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?

The most critical “hot button” issue is making sure the information available to consumers is actually true. There is so much misinformation regarding food technology, and many self-proclaimed experts weigh in with their opinions and treat them like facts. We are in a position that we may miss opportunities for efficiencies, for healthier foods, and to feed the planet because consumers are inundated with scary and false statements about food production. Consumers are demanding (with their voices, computers and dollars) that food is produced in ways they feel comfortable with – even if it’s not the best.