Mackey Almy Dan’l Mackey Almy's drive for success became obvious while she was still in elementary school.
By the age of nine, she was active in 4-H raising cattle and hogs. Opening her first business checking account came two years later. The time-consuming agricultural projects continued into her high school years, when she still found time for sports, numerous clubs and was involved in a movement to establish a student council.
“I wasn’t shy about volunteering my time and my efforts,” she said.
As founder, president and managing partner of DMA Solutions Inc., Irving, Texas, farm animals are no longer the focus for Almy. They have been replaced by a passion for fresh produce.
“I am really continuously energized by the products and the potential they (fresh produce) have in so many areas — for happiness, health, wellness,” she said. “I love the type of person it takes to grow these fresh products.”
The love affair with fresh produce began in Almy’s second year at Texas A&M University during a professor’s lecture on marketing.
“From half way through my sophomore year in college, I knew that I was destined for the fresh produce industry,” she said.
Almy’s marketing skills, upon graduating from A&M, were sufficiently honed that she talked herself into a job that didn’t exist at Dallas-based Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc.
“They weren’t hiring at the time, but I convinced them to hire me,” she said.
It was February, 1995, and opportunities in fresh produce marketing had just begun to open, Almy said. Within three years, she was working on the Wal-Mart account.
“That was when Wal-Mart had fewer than 100 supercenters,” Almy said. “By 2003, Wal-Mart was by far our largest customer. It was an amazing time, from 100 stores to 1,500 stores. It was a blast.”
That year, Standard was acquired by Del Monte Produce. Almy stayed with the new company for another 14 months, “but I had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug,” she said.
Almy launched DMA Solutions in 2004. While at Standard, Almy said she had witnessed something of an evolution.
“When I came into the industry, marketing was synonymous with sales,” she said. “In many cases, that’s still the perception, but I started to see a shift.”
During her tenure at Standard, the company’s annual marketing budget skyrocketed.
“I saw this huge opportunity to provide marketing services, which is what I truly love to do, into an industry whose products I worship and whose stories I want to tell,” she said.
That the marketing segment of the fresh produce industry continues to evolve is evidenced by the clients who retain DMA Solutions.
“When we started seven years ago, 100% of what we did was business to business — fresh produce to buyers, to institutions, etc.,” Almy said. “Now we are nearing a 50-50 ratio to where we are doing 50% b-to-b and the other 50% taking our clients’ stories directly to the consumer. To happen that quickly is very amazing to me.”
It is the quality of work at DMA Solutions, not growth and success, by which Almy charts progress.
“I want us to be known for pushing ourselves and pushing our clients to find new and unique and effective ways to reach the growing audience that cares about our products,” she said.
Symbolic of Almy’s approach is what she called her proudest achievement: the DMA Solutions blog, The Core, which is dedicated to sharing marketing ideas.
“We have a tremendous loyal and growing following,” she said. “To stay relevant and interesting has been a huge accomplishment for us.”
That The Core may reveal company marketing secrets is of no concern to Almy. Indeed, it is part of her strategy.
“As this industry becomes more of an aggressive direct-to-consumer marketer, we all had better be working together,” she said. ”Regardless whether one chooses to work with our company, if there are more companies taking advantage of the amazing marketing opportunities that are available today, that’s going to strengthen our industry.”