Brent Bradley, Vice President Sales & Marketing of Graceland Fruit presented on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, as the keynote speaker for the Global Business Club of Mid Michigan Luncheon. His presentation was part of the “Export Essentials: Logistics, Documentation & Due Diligence” seminar organized in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Graceland Fruit Inc., was recognized as Michigan Agricultural Exporter of the Year for their successes in 2011. Prior to joining Graceland Fruit, Mr Bradley spend a time as an area manager with Showtime Networks and as a District Sales Manager with Konica Minolta.
Mr Bradley spoke about the transition of Graceland Fruit Inc. from a Co-op established in 1973 to an innovator in slicing and dicing technologies to its foray into the export markets in 1995 to being present in 42 countries across the globe today. His presentation focused largely on Graceland’s export strategies and how they were successfully executed.
One of the first strategies of Graceland was to focus on the Japanese export market. This was a tough competitive market and gaining a strong foothold in Japan would not just open up doors to the Asian markets but also provide key learning lessons in foreign markets that can be applied universally and set the standards in place.
He also stressed the opportunity of attack low hanging fruit while ensuring that a long term strategy is in place. The focus was on being a strategic exporter rather than gaining immediate short term sales. A huge importance was also placed on finding the right partners and that due diligence and time spent in finding the perfect partners was successful in enabling Graceland Fruit to establish its footprint on a global scale.
Mr Bradley then talked about the importance on diversifying the product line as part of the growth strategy by building on the core skills and how his firm expanded from cherries to blueberries to products such as Soft N Frozen, which is commonly used in desserts. A firm cannot remain stagnant but always needs to find new markets. Lastly he briefed on the importance of customs in the food industry (due to the perishable nature of their products) and on a lighter note mentioned that his best friends are in the U.S. Agricultural Trade Offices around the globe.