Sakata Seed America has announced the appointment of Joseph “Joe” Cimino to the position of Senior Sales Manager of Ornamentals NAFTA, effective Jan. 4. Cimino will be based in Sakata’s Morgan Hill office.
Cimino comes to Sakata with extensive marketing and management experience in the North American ornamentals industry, serving most recently as Western Area and Key Account Manager for Sun Gro Horticulture. He has also held senior management roles at Cut Flower Exchange and Kendal Floral Supply. Cimino earned his MBA at Gold State University.
“As industry leaders, Sakata Seed impressed me with more than a century of innovation and progressive business practices. I look forward to leading the Ornamentals group and working closely with our valued customers, partners, growers, and leadership team to continue and grow our business while maintaining the company’s much-deserved outstanding reputation with continued high standards,” Cimino says.
With Cimino’s new role comes the retirement of long-time Sakata Senior Sales Manager, Ron Garofalo, who will be supporting his replacement through the beginning of the year before retiring from his nearly 20 years in the industry and almost 50 years in sales and marketing.
Cimino’s contact information can be located on the Sakata staff directory page.
Greenhouse Grower recently caught up with Cimino and asked him about the impact he’d like to make on Sakata and the industry in this new position.
Greenhouse Grower (GG): How did your previous experience prepare you for this new role?
Joe Cimino: I started in horticulture with the Suyeyasu family in the early 1990’s and then onto Florexpo, followed by the last 13 years with Sun Gro Horticulture. These collective experiences, initially with a family owned business and then on to management positions at two multi-national horticultural companies, have provided me with a strong foundation to utilize at Sakata Seed America. Our parent company, Sakata Seed Corporation, is a 103-year old firm with multiple operating units throughout the world while still maintaining its core family values. My prior experience has prepared me for the challenges of working in a demanding multi-cultural environment with multiple worldwide operating entities.
GG: What are the some of the biggest issues or concerns you’ve heard from the growers you work with, and how do you plan to help them deal with these issues?
Cimino: The greatest concern is weather; however, there isn’t a lot we can do to directly assist with this concern. However, what breeders and specifically Sakata can do is invest in and improve plant quality based upon specific customer feedback and concern.
At times, particularly in larger organizations, customer feedback can fail to reach the breeder, while new product development information reaches customers incomplete, incorrect, or late. Successful organizations must be committed to ensuring that customer feedback is not only received, but utilized in future product development. Our commitment at Sakata, as well as with our customers, is to work with our leadership team to ensure we have an effective information loop within our organization and externally.
Sakata Seed America is also committed to a very strong quality assurance program where new seed and vegetative crops are vigorously tested prior to market introduction. We strongly believe in what is advertised is what customers should expect in terms of production and performance.
GG: What are the biggest challenges this industry is currently facing? Conversely, what are some of the biggest opportunities on the horizon?
Cimino: Labor and energy costs are two of the greatest concerns for our industry. Both of these inputs can have a direct adverse effect on profitability. Labor is a challenge in that we are seeing increased regulatory issues in the U.S. that affect growers of all sizes. These labor issues will directly impact cost of labor and to some extent depending upon geography, availability of labor, as well.
In my opinion, our greatest opportunities are in new product development as well as consumer demand creation. Consumers are craving new and exciting products; for instance, if we look at specialty crop production and availability at retail in 2017, the variety of products in the agricultural sector is 5-fold from what retailers offered for sale just 20 years ago. We need to learn and replicate those efforts in flower production. We need to continue and improve our product development through strategic investments where applicable. Additionally, as emerging economies turn into developing markets, these countries will present plant breeders with worldwide capabilities new opportunities for growth.
GG: Looking ahead, what role can you play in moving this industry forward?
Cimino: Our industry is greater than any one individual. However, by challenging myself, my colleagues, and peers to add value in every step of the product chain, to innovate and think creatively, as well as recognize that technological advances will continue to evolve in how we receive and disseminate information both to colleagues and ultimately our customers, will benefit us all.
GG: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
Cimino: I’ve worked in the agricultural sector my entire life. I love it and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Our business challenges us day to day in ways many industries couldn’t imagine. I enjoy the challenges, triumphs, and experiences each and every day.