The Packer’s National Editor Tom Karst chatted by phone May 28 with Julie Krivanek, founder and president of Krivanek Consulting Inc., Denver. You can read the entire chat on the Fresh Talk blog.
2:15 p.m. Tom Karst: When you started your consulting business after your career at Amoco, when did your first produce client show up? What were first impressions of the industry?
2:16 p.m. Julie Krivanek: I started my business like most startups. I hacked around a little bit. I started with a collection of services and industries. My beginning was focused functionally on leadership, strategy, executive coaching. The businesses I worked with focused on high tech and communications. Then, in 1994, I was hired by United Fresh to be their first speaker to Class 1 of their United Dupont leadership program.
And so if you wind back time, that was day one of exposure in the produce industry. At that time it was just another client and just another engagement. But people in that class were some of my very first clients and United was one of my very first clients, not just for that program, but for their strategic planning process. I can just tell you, for a person that does business planning, I didn’t plan the best thing that ever happened to my business. I think it is sort of ironic and hysterical, but that’s what ended up happening. So this summer I will be in Seattle speaking to Class 16 of the United leadership program. That was the seed of my love affair with the produce industry.
2:22 p.m. Karst: Are there common issues in the management of family produce businesses?
2:23 p.m. Krivanek: In the dynamics of family business, the one thing that makes it crazier than other businesses is that you have more intimate knowledge of the players, so you know the “whatever” about each other and each other’s respective clan and the sensitivity level is ratcheted much higher. Work can often be the place where family differences and issues are mediated. Sometimes the true purpose of business becomes veiled and the business is really the sustenance of the family versus something outside the four walls, or competing with others in the market place for higher efficiencies, profitability and a grander space. Is doing a strategic plan good for family business? The only thing that trumps personalities and agendas is a shared direction.