Edgar Terry – The Food System, President, Terry Berries

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

Our core competency is in the growing

I’ve got the most important job in the world; I’m a farmer.Edgar Terry, President, CFO, Terry Berries, Ventura, California

Edgar Terry, President, and CFO of Terry Berries comes from a long line of farmers. He has a lifelong interest in finance and teaching. In this episode, Edgar explains the Food System in a way that helps us understand the process of commercial farming in a way that helps us appreciate the complexities of the business.

Terry Berries have been a fixture in Ventura County for the past 16 years. They are centrally located at 1701 Telephone Road. They’ve operated a fruit stand this entire time and don’t wholesale the berries. If you want some of the best tasting, picked-fresh-daily strawberries, you’ll need to go during the season (February through Mid-June).

In addition to the berries, Edgar grows large crops under contract, peppers, celery and other vegetables for large food producers. As a chef, I was fascinated to learn how this all worked, and how he manages the entire process. Edgar explained that they operate on single-digit margins, meaning it only takes a minor mishap, maybe too much heat, to erase the profit.

Luckily for the family, he has a love of numbers and suggests that there’s no substitute for sound finance. He loves this aspect of the business so much; he’s been teaching it for 32 years in California Lutheran University’s Degree for Professionals Evening Program and the Master of Business Administration Program. He also somehow finds time to sit on eight boards of directors, including being the President and CFO of Terry Farms. He’s a busy guy.

We also talked about the challenges and surprises of commercial farming, and some of the innovative aspects that are being implemented to help him and other food producers meet the demands of an ever more discerning population.