( The Packer )

Nick Dulcich got his start working on the family farm in McFarland, Calif. He still works there, but his job description and his perspective on the produce industry have evolved over the years.

Dulcich recalls working with his brother, Peter, and father, Jakov, in every aspect of the growing operation — irrigation, driving a tractor and other assorted tasks.

But after attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he majored in agribusiness with an emphasis in marketing, he left Central California and moved to the big city, taking a job with Davalan Sales Inc. on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, where he enhanced his knowledge of the industry working in mixed consolidation.

A few years later, he moved over to Chiquita Frupac in Los Angeles, gaining expertise in the Chilean table grape deal.

When he returned home a year or so later, he was prepared to launch Sunlight International as the marketing arm of Jakov P. Dulcich & Sons. The Sunlight name later was changed to Pretty Lady Vineyards, after the company’s most popular table grape brand.

Dulcich said the experience he gained outside the family-owned company was invaluable.

“My dad told me to learn how to sell grapes and to learn the industry,” he said.

So he did just that — “from top to bottom.”

“It’s a must to open your mind and get a different perspective on the industry,” Dulcich said.

Today, Dulcich wears multiple hats. He’s co-owner of the farm with his brother, president of Pretty Lady Vineyards and owner and director of sales for Jakov P. Dulcich & Sons.

Randy Riley, director of produce merchandising for The Kroger Co., said Dulcich’s company is one of the retailer’s favored vendors.

“Nick’s commitment to quality and service, along with his attention to detail and (being) receptive to feedback makes him and his company a preferred supplier for Kroger,” he said.

“Nick leads his team to understand the initiatives and strategies of his customers and make adjustments or pivots within his organization to accommodate.”

Dulcich has found that consistency of product, good business practices and innovative marketing are key to maintaining a successful brand.

He said some of his marketing ideas come from mimicking the “center store mentality.”

He believes in “marketing to the holidays,” like the company’s Harvest Hobgoblin table grape program that is supported by Halloween-themed branded bags, display bins and shippers.

Pretty Lady also packs Christmas bags for that holiday.

“Marketing to the holidays has really caught on for us,” he said.

In managing his company, Dulcich said he has an open-door policy.

He sits in the sales office so he can take in opinions and feedback from others as he tries to “make the best decisions for the company and the customer.”

“It’s important for someone in a position of authority to listen and not always think they are right,” he said.

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