Now three months into the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon COO position, I have to say that I am thrilled to be at HGO and to be a part of the exciting changes happening here.
My goal for HGO is to be the No. 1 processor of hazelnuts in North America in the next five years! I don’t want to make the goal by an inch, I want to make it by a mile!
Here are some facts about HGO to help us reach this ambitious goal.
We have created a team to drive growth with a robust multi-channel sales plan.
HGO built this 120,000-square-foot processing plant for the future and now we’re staffing accordingly. The people we have hired are proven talent. It’s all about increasing the return for our co-op members. We are in service to you. It doesn’t just mean moving tonnage; it’s about maximizing profit with what you’ve already done, which is growing great products.
Another huge milestone at HGO that we are proud of is gaining SQF Level 3 certification in just nine months at our state-of-the-art processing plant! Only about 12 percent of US manufacturers offer SQF3 certification and no other hazelnut processor uses steam pasteurization in the Willamette Valley. Jason Costa, our Plant Manager, and Mark Clute, our QC Manager, were large contributors in reaching SQF3 so quickly and smoothly.
SQF3 will open ingredient sales opportunities for us from major manufacturers from around the world that require the highest level of food safety. We’re going to have a major advantage – we’re at the pinnacle of quality when it comes to food safety.
I believe I’m the right person for the COO job here at HGO because I live the rural lifestyle and I am motivated by the same principles and ethics of Wilco and HGO: Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Community and Teamwork. I have a 20-acre farm, I raise livestock, and I understand what farmers deal with daily.