Just a few weeks short of one year ago, Murakami Produce Company LLC in Ontario, OR, announced the hiring of Cameron Skeen as a member of the company’s Operations and Business Development team.
With Cameron, who’s in his late 30s, came a bridging of generations and technological savvy. Cameron had more than six years with Keithly-Williams Seeds Inc. and was also an onion grower from a third-generation Treasure Valley onion farming family.
“My family farmed fields next to Murakami’s founder, Sig Murakami,” Cameron said in 2015. “I not only grew up with onions in my blood, but I also grew up appreciating the Murakami business philosophy, which is built on honesty and integrity.” And, he said at the announcement of his new position, “I’m ready to utilize my skills and abilities to continue to strengthen the company’s position in the market – through a steadfast dedication to developing innovative solutions in a technologically advancing and ever-changing agri-business environment.”
How has the year unfolded? Cameron took some time to explain the changes that have occurred at Murakami to OnionBusiness.com.
“I would say the most significant change over the past year has been the overall mindset of Murakami Produce,” he said. “ What I mean by that is that when you take the decades’ worth of industry experience that we have and combine that with a younger aggressive growth mindset and overall ambition, it has made for great synergy which has allowed us to focus on big-picture, long-term strategic plans that will set us up for success for many years to come.”
Technology and communication, he said, “are at the foundation of everything I am doing both from a day-to-day standpoint as well as from a long-term strategic planning view.”
And he went on to explain that the immediacy of information availability is a given in today’s world. “As a society we have grown accustomed to getting answers and information now. Information is constantly at our fingertips.”
In the workplace, too, instant access to information is taken for granted, and it should be used to its full potential. “Business is no different [than the day-to-day world]. We have to make sure that we are operating in similar fashion up and down the supply chain as well as internally,” Cameron said. “The speed of business is faster than it’s ever been, and I don’t see it slowing down. In fact I think it will only get faster.”
How does he approach his role with this knowledge? “Every day I think about how we can do everything we do more fluid and accurate so we can make decisions faster and transfer more accurate information with the goal of providing our customers better quality and service so they can be more competitive within their scope of business,” he said. And Cameron added, “It’s an exciting time to be in business.”
He went on to say more change is in the offing. “From an operational standpoint, we will continue to look at improving efficiency and communication throughout our organization. I have several things that I will be looking to implement on the operational side, all focused on efficiency and more fluid communication. I also have some big-picture items I’m working on that will help the long-term viability of Murakami Produce, but it’s probably too premature to dive into specifics.”
Planning for the here and now includes, in reality, planning for what’s next in tech and communication. Cameron said in five years things will no doubt be very different, very advanced from what they are now.
“While what we are doing as an industry in five years will be the same, how we do it will be very different,” he said. “What I see on the horizon are some truly industry-changing developments that are taking shape. Some present challenges and others opportunities.”
Issues that are key now will very likely be key in five years. “I think the availability and the price of labor will continue to cause the industry to change and adapt,” he said. “At the same time, there is so much happening with technology and automation that those will provide the means to overcome some of the labor challenges.”
Caveat emptor: “However, technology and automation come at a significant price, and so it won’t be had by all.”
And, Cameron said, “I think we will continue to see more vertical integration to stabilize costs and margins and to maintain competitiveness in a global market.”
In short, Cameron said, “I am very excited about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”