Sybil Chapple

Senior Manager of VMI & Delivered Sales
Tanimura & Antle: Salinas, CA

Years in Produce:

Age: 30

Personal Information:

Engaged; Two children

Hobbies: Spending time with kids; running; reading; scuba diving; active in California Women for Agriculture (CWA); helped local high school cross country team.

Motto in life: Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you’ll be criticized anyway. — Eleanor Roosevelt.

Work History: Chapple started with Tanimura & Antle as a sales intern in 2010 while completing her last semester of college. She worked there during the day and took off every afternoon to finish evening classes. Upon graduating, she was hired full time as a sales assistant and after several years was promoted to sales manager. In 2016, she left Tanimura & Antle to join Dole Berry Company where she strategically used her veg contacts to help grow the berry business. In 2016, she was approached with the offer of joining a start-up salad dressing company getting into processed salads and she joined Tessmae’s ranks as a fresh food development manager. In this role, she was responsible for helping bring to life their individual salad kit line. In February of 2017, she rejoined Tanimura and Antle as senior manager of VMI and delivered sales.

Questions & Answers:

Q: How did you begin working in produce?

I guess you could say I was born into this industry. Both my parents were in produce. My mom was a produce broker, and my dad started as a forklift driver. They met in Oxnard in the 80s and the rest is history. Growing up, we used to move back and forth with the growing seasons from Salinas to Yuma. As a child, I wanted to be a marine biologist. As I got older, I wanted to be an English professor. Never once did I think I’d end up back in the industry. Turns out, some things run deep and as soon as I was given an internship on the sales desk, I was hooked.

Q: Are you a Gen X-er or Millennial?

The people who know me know that the Millennial debate does nothing but spark a lively discourse on the subject matter. I think I speak for many of us “Millennials” who seem to find themselves in a category that they don’t identify with. There has been a debate that the Millennial category should be broken down into subcategories: “new Millennials” and “old Millennials.” Old Millennials being those born before 1988. I find that I can relate more to the people in this category.

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

I think the produce industry has changed drastically since I came onto the scene. The best way I can describe it is old school produce and new age produce. In the old days, we did everything manually and fought to get daily POs and price points. We used to send rollers of product with no destination. Things have changed so much since then. Contracts keep extending to include longer time periods, suppliers provide full services now like delivered sales, and vendor managed inventory. Automation has integrated its way onto the order desks. The partnerships between suppliers and customers have become much more complex and important. Working together to create viable solutions for both parties has become, and will continue to be, an integral part of produce. The challenge I faced early on and I think the challenge we all continue to face is how to evolve and remain viable in a landscape that is rapidly changing.

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

It always pains me when we get a load rejected due to something like “excessive mud,” or “dead bugs.” Land, labor and water have and will continue to be some of the biggest challenges we face. As an industry, we have done such a disservice to ourselves when the end user cannot understand why the celery has mud on the stalks. When we are struggling to find reliable harvest crews, when water is scarce and resources are limited, we have got to do a better job of educating the general population.