George Boskovich Jr., Boskovich Farms Inc.
George Boskovich Jr., Boskovich Farms Inc.

After two years in the Army, George Boskovich Jr. was hesitant to join the family farm.

“It didn’t seem like there was enough going on, where they needed my services or could challenge me,” he said.

“Well, I was wrong.”

He now represents the third generation of Boskovich Farms Inc., but when he came on board in the late 1960s, Boskovich Farms was just beginning to expand.

The company leased refrigerated space from a celery shipper in Salinas, Calif., and they sent a load of green onions there with a retired salesman. The next morning, George Jr. called the salesman, who said he had sold them all.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “What snapped in my mind was it’s not the product, it’s the convenience.”

The company diversified, moving into more affordable or geographically convenient places, and expanded from one commodity to dozens. It now exports to several countries in Europe.

“They have a tremendous reputation as the green onion king, going back maybe 80 years or more,” said Rob Roy, president and general counsel of the Ventura County Agricultural Association.

As the company strove for convenience and diversity, it came across a unique way of cooling its produce.

“We were green before it was cool,” Boskovich said.

When the company moved into its current day headquarters in Oxnard, Calif., it bought and remodeled a defunct freezer facility. And it made a deal with a neighboring coal generation company. The Boskoviches used the company’s steam from burning natural gas to power their refrigeration. The company now makes 170 tons of ice a day and sells it.

The company also expanded into processing its food and now supplies major foodservice companies. It even expanded beyond mixed vegetables to sell strawberries and other commodities.

The company’s diversification has helped make it a local industry leader in regards to year-round supplies and all the different services it offers, said Roy, who has known Boskovich for more than 30 years.

Boskovich said his grandfather was an immigrant from Croatia, and his traits are still with the company today, such as how tight-knit the company leadership is.

“We don’t make a move until we are in total agreement,” he said. “There’s no all-stars here.”

That family setting persists today, and it’s bolstered by Boskovich’s presence.

“George is just one of those rare personalities,” Roy said. “He’s the kind of guy to give you the shirt off his back. He’s a wonderful person. His stature in the industry is a big strength for them.”

But Boskovich, true to his no-all-stars words, has even bigger expectations for those who follow him.

“Now the fourth generation has joined in,” he said. “Every generation is going to bring something and add to it.”