Although he comes from a family involved in construction, not produce, Chris Glynn sees a lot of similarities between the two.
In both industries, you start and finish a project — whether it’s building a house or planting a crop — within a specific timeframe; both provide a sense of accomplishment; and both involve working outdoors.
Now director of organics for Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc., Glynn earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and started his career at E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., in vineyard management and grower relations in 1993.
His enthusiasm for organics started several years later when he joined California’s newly formed Central Coast Vineyard Team, which focused on sustainable vineyard practices and strove for safe agriculture inputs with less pressure on the environment.
He was living on a 700-acre vineyard in Paso Robles at the time and didn’t want chemicals around his kids, he said.
“I tended to lean toward that sense of organic and low impact on the environment.”
After 12 years with Gallo, he switched to the organic vegetable side after hearing Charlie Sweat, CEO at San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm, talk about the company’s organic vegetable program when Glynn was participating in the California Agricultural Leadership Program.
“I felt that fell in line with my values,” he said.
He spent 12 years at Earthbound Farm before signing on with Tanimura & Antle in 2017 to help the company reestablish an organic program after an eight-year absence from the deal.
Throughout his career, Glynn said he has tried to lead by example.
“I want to treat people the way I want to be treated,” he said.
Glynn said he values honesty, integrity and accountability.
“I hold people accountable, including myself,” he said. “That’s how I want to lead and be led.”
Jack Vessey, president of Vessey & Co. Inc., Holtville, Calif., said he was impressed when he met Glynn when they were fellows of Class 34 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.
“I could tell he was a natural-born leader,” he said.
At the time, Glynn was in the wine industry, but Vessey said he expressed an interest in the produce side during discussions they had.
He seemed drawn to the challenges of produce, like the fast pace “and the wins and losses,” Vessey said.
Glynn sees a bright future for Tanimura & Antle and the organic industry despite challenges from increasing costs, shrinking premiums, market saturation and retail consolidation.
He believes the organic trend will continue to expand, especially among millennials, who want to know where their food is grown and what their food is grown with.
His goal is well defined as he helps the company rebuild its organic program.
“The biggest thing I’d like to do is make this whole thing profitable for everybody,” he said.