Business Development Director - Produce
Birko Corporation: Henderson, CO
Years in Produce:
Hobbies: Golf; mountain biking; hunting; team captain for Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society
Motto in life: Go for it. No matter how it ends, it was an experience.
Work History: For the past decade, Murphy has been involved in protecting the food chain in one way or another. After graduating from the University of Puget Sound, Murphy went to work for Ecolab in Tacoma, WA, before moving to Yakima, WA, to work as director of food safety for Borton Fruit. At Borton, he ran all aspects of its farm and facility food safety programs for three facilities and more than 1,200 employees. After Borton Fruit, he had a short stint with certification body WQS (World Quality Services of Charlotte, NC) before moving to Birko Corporation in 2015 as a technical sales representative. Murphy quickly became one of the company’s top sales performers, and a partner to the produce companies he supported in the Pacific Northwest region. In March 2018, he was promoted as Birko’s first-ever business development director for the produce sector, in recognition of his success in helping produce companies build, grow and manage their food safety programs. At the same time, he took an intensive two-year graduate program and received his Masters of Science in food safety regulation from The John Hopkins University. He has been invited to speak at the Florida Association of Food Protection (FAFP) 2018 Annual Education Conference (AEC) and the Food Safety Supply Chain Conference. He is a nominee for the United Fresh Produce Association’s Food Safety and Technology Council, March 2018, and serves on the Produce Marketing Association Science and Technology Volunteer Leadership Committee.
Questions & Answers:
Q: How did you begin working in produce?
I was working at Ecolab and then was called by a college buddy to see if I wanted to interview for the Director of Food Safety job at Borton Fruit. Once I made my trip out to Yakima, WA, and learned a bit about the process, I was excited about the opportunity and the people surrounding it. There are not many industries where you can learn about the production of food, from farm to fork.
Q: Are you a Gen X-er or Millennial?
I would say a mix of both. I use a lot of technology and tend to be pretty optimistic. However, I prefer face-to-face contact and working in a team as opposed to on my own.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
The true importance of networking; the further I get into my career the more and more I believe in the old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?
Finding solutions to help the produce industry battle food safety issues leading to my Business Development Director role at Birko and finishing my Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?
While I do believe it is headed that direction, I would like to see advancement of technology being implemented into produce production to ensure a safe product for consumers.
Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The bigger the network you have the more success you may find.
Q: What is the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?
The complete implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act in produce facilities. I see a lot of variance in degrees of compliance among facilities, and believe that, to be successful, companies need to take a united approach to ensure they are all up to regulation.