CORRECTED: As chief executive officer and president of Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Salt Lake City, Phil Muir represents the fifth generation of his family to be active in the produce industry. The sixth generation also has become involved.
“We’ve been in the business since 1850,” Muir said, “and each generation has bought out the previous.”
Courtesy Muir Copper Canyon FarmsPhil Muir, Muir Copper Canyon Farms For Muir, 61, the evolution of the company was more dramatic as he led the transformation from a grower-shipper to a distribution company.
Changing the company’s direction midcareer wasn’t an easy feat, but Muir was up the challenge.
“It was pretty tricky to get everything done, but it’s been a good decision, and we made a difference in our marketplace,” he said.
The company now focuses on distributing fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other specialty food items to foodservice facilities, though the company is expanding to include some retail opportunities as well.
“We recognized a need in the market, and we filled that with a new business, and we were successful,” he said. “That gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”
Muir’s colleagues have noticed his hard work and success.
“Their success is a tribute to his vision and fortitude, having a great team, and the willingness to do things that others might suggest can’t be done,” said Steve Grinstead, chief executive officer of Monterey, Calif.-based Pro*ACT LLC, of which Muir was chairman for two years.
Muir also is heavily invested in improving the health and nutrition of today’s youth.
In fact, one of the most rewarding aspects of Muir’s career has been his involvement in changing the school lunch program regulations to include more fresh produce.
He also helps schools provide appropriate fresh produce and nutrition education programs to their students.
According to Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, Phil works with over 40 school districts in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
“Phil is passionate about working with school districts to increase their use of produce, even in very rural, remote areas of the country,” DiSogra said. “In the last four years, this has become a passion for me, implementing and trying to change the eating habits of America’s children.”
In the past 10 years, Muir has seen the orders from schools increase by four times, and that’s just for the previously existing accounts.