Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development
Ham Farms, Yamco and Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration: Snow Hill, NC
Years in Produce:
Hobbies: Agriculture; business; photography; hunting; fishing; Small Group Leader at Integrity Church; Volunteer at Hope of Glory (Faith-based community outreach)
Motto in life: The harvest is greatest when rooted in genuine faith and love.
Work History: After graduating from North Carolina State University with a degree in business management, Kornegay began his career in the energy industry as a commodity trader for Aces Power Marketing (Carmel, IN). After two years, he joined Ham Farms as a sales representative. He was eventually promoted to sales manager, and then to senior vice president of sales and business development for Ham Farms, Yamco Puree, and Natural Blends Vegetable Dehydration. He has helped to create new products, increase consumption of sweet potatoes throughout the U.S. and create a large export program to the United Kingdom and beyond. In addition, Kornegay founded his first company, AGrow Life, in 2012 as an agricultural marketing company focused on connecting professionals within the industry. In 2015, he co-founded the first subscription-based company in the outdoor industry, Sportsman’s Box, and in 2017, he co-founded Glean, a health foods company focused on reducing food waste by creating value-added health foods from off-grade produce.
Questions & Answers:
Q: How did you begin working in produce?
While my family was not directly involved, I grew up around agriculture and was always interested in the “Way of Life.” I spent my high school and college years finding ways to skip class and spend as much time as possible outdoors with friends on their farms. I have always had a deep and indescribable love and appreciation for the land.
Q: Are you a Gen X-er or Millennial?
I consider myself a Gen X-er with a touch of Millennial. I resonate more with the Gen X. I consider myself an “old soul,” as my passion and heart are deeply rooted things of old. At the same time, the business side of me is certainly more Millennial-centered.
Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
The unpredictable nature of agriculture and fresh produce. Dealing with commodities that rely on Mother Nature and other variables can be difficult as a young professional.
Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?
I am proud of my ability to see emerging markets or new opportunities. I work very hard to be a pioneer within these areas and have been able to capitalize on several.
Q: What is the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?
Evolving food safety and labor standards. Increased attention and requirements in these areas are having a profound impact on businesses across the board.
Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
Learn your products, learn your competitor’s products, and learn both domestic and international markets. Learn logistics, food safety, farm processes. Learn it all, regardless of what your role may be. The more educated you can become, the more credible and successful you will be. In addition, be different. Be strategic and creative in how you approach your work.
Q: What was the “aha” moment when you knew produce was the industry for you?
I was in high school, sitting on a truck tailgate with my best friend having conversations about what the future held. As we sat there on his family’s farm, we discussed the impact we could have. We made it our goal to accomplish that. My first true “aha” moment was the day I secured a sweet potato supply contract with one of the biggest retailers in Europe. Today, that friend and I work together just like we had discussed. I am able to take the crops that he grows on that same family farm and ship those products to a different continent.