Employee Spotlight: 10 Things to Know About Katie Tossie, Organic Product Manager
Katie Tossie, our Organic Product Manager, has been working at Ocean Mist Farms for nearly 20 years on our sales team and today we're excited to offer her perspective on this week's Employee Spotlight.
Keep reading to learn more about what life for Katie looks like inside and outside of the office pre- and post- COVID-19, where organic produce is heading next, and what advice she has for newcomers to the ag industry!
1. How did you first get started at Ocean Mist Farms? How long have you been at OMF?
My career started as an entry level Sales Coordinator in 2001. With time, hard work, and becoming more knowledgeable in our industry, I was promoted to my current role as the Organic Product Manager. I have been with this wonderful company for 19 years as of this month!
2. Did you expect to go into the ag industry? What do you love about this industry?
I think a lot of times when you're younger and first starting out, you don’t really know what direction your career will take. I never expected that I would have a successful career in the ag industry. What I love most about this industry is feeding America healthy, nutritious vegetables. It is fast paced and constantly evolving, so you never get bored. Working for a family-owned ag company that truly stands behind it’s guiding values (integrity, quality, passion & success) is what I love most about working for Ocean Mist Farms in particular- truly a blessing!
3. How has COVID-19 impacted you, sales, and the office?
We’ve been fortunate enough to be working for an essential business during this time. Buying patterns have fluctuated but business has remained steady because people need to eat. No doubt COVID-19 has impacted every industry out there, our company and industry as a whole is lucky to be producing and selling the nutritious staples people are more consciously turning to during these times.
Custom partitions were installed throughout the building, temperature-screenings and 6-foot social distancing protocols were put in place, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the building are a few of the many ways our admin office has adapted to the COVID-19 times as an essential business. Above is a picture of me in my office cubicle on the sales floor. To maintain social distancing at all times, adjacent cubicles had to be vacated and some colleagues are now working remotely.
In our office, custom shields and hand sanitizing stations have been installed, masks and temperature screenings are required, and the 6-feet apart social distancing at all times- all of this has been in place since the very beginning. Customer meetings and tradeshows have all gone virtual as well so adapting to the times is the name of the game for everyone.
4. What does your day-to-day look like as the Organic Product Manager? Who do you work with on a daily basis?
Our days start out fairly early for the sales team. We have a daily meeting at 6:30AM to go over markets and product availability. I work with the entire sales team, field supervisors and with our organic customers every day to quote and place customer orders based on product availability and growing conditions leading up to and at the time of harvest. Beyond this, my day-to-day varies so I often work with other departments like Accounting, Marketing and Shipping as well.
5. As the Organic Product Manager, what’s your perspective on where the organic category is moving/growing?
There is definitely an increased demand for organic produce. Each year, we are seeing more and more demand from our customers for our organic vegetables and packaged options like our 100% recyclable corrugated organic artichokes (above). I think the category will continue to grow at a rapid pace.
6. What did you like to do in your free time pre-COVID-19?
My pre-COVID-19 hobbies haven’t been severely affected by the pandemic too much because I really love horses and spend the majority of my free time horseback riding outdoors. I'm very fortunate in that area.
Weekend horseback riding with my horses Bug (left) and Ruby (right) in Moss Landing, CA.
I prefer to take my horses to the beach because there is nothing more calming than riding a horse next to the beautiful ocean. Beyond that, I love spending time at outdoor BBQ’s with family and friends - 6 feet apart of course!😊
7. What’s your favorite Ocean Mist Organic vegetable and how do you prepare it?
Organic Artichokes are most definitely my favorite vegetable. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to preparing Artichokes; I prefer them steamed with a little olive oil and garlic salt. When I’m really feeling fancy, I make my favorite dipping sauce with mayo and soy sauce. It’s a must try!
8. Work philosophy or words you live by?
If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit!
9. Any new COVID-19 hobbies?
Home Depot has been busy for a reason – DIY projects have been on my mind left and right just like everyone else. I just created a beautiful kitchen wall collage at my house. Pinterest has been a great source for DIY project ideas as well. Still figuring out my next project.
10. Advice for people coming into the ag industry?
Last year, I attended a conference in San Antonio, Texas with Ocean Mist Farms colleagues where we learned, connected and had some valuable takeaways for both personal and professional growth. From left to right: Katie Tossie (Sales), Julia Perez (Sales), Alma Delia Sanchez (Accounting), and Diana McClean (Marketing).
Learn from your successful counterparts and co-workers. Find a mentor to help guide you and teach you about the industry. But most importantly, remember to have confidence and speak up. Share your ideas, always ask questions, and get involved at industry events!