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Generation Next: Garrett Stolz born and bred for citrus career

There might not be a millennial better suited for his career than Garrett Stolz, marketing and communications specialist for Sunkist Growers Inc., based in Valencia, CA.

Stolz grew up in Exeter, CA, a small citrus farming town located in the foothills of the Central Valley in Tulare County. It is as close to the epicenter of the California citrus industry as one can get. His knowledge of the industry was ingrained at an early age on the family farm and it appears he has been developing those skills in a straight line ever since.Stolz-Professional-HeadshotGarrett Stolz

“Both my grandparents and great grandparents lived in Exeter, where they held teaching or sales positions while owning and operating a walnut farm and a Sunkist orange citrus grove,” he said. “I first learned about the agriculture industry by working small jobs on the citrus grove that my grandma still operates today.”

His father held many agricultural sales and executive management positions over the years, including positions at Sunkist Growers and its subsidiary Fruit Growers Supply Co. “My father (Tony Stolz) continues to enjoy a long career working in/with all aspects of pre- and post-harvest agribusiness. He is currently employed in sales at Pace International Chemical Co., based in Visalia, CA,” said the younger Stolz.

As a youth, Garrett Stolz was involved in many different sports, and he is still very active. His passion is volleyball, which he played competitively as a child. He had to switch to other sports when the family moved to the Exeter area, as there wasn’t a boys’ volleyball team at his school.

“As a youth, I earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do,” he said. “At Exeter Union High School, I participated in the student leadership program and was class vice president for all four years while also lettering in varsity football and varsity tennis.”

Following in his family’s footsteps, Stolz enrolled at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where both of his parents had gone. He graduated with a degree in agribusiness management in 2015 and paid particular attention to marketing.Stolz-Boating-PhotoAs a Santa Monica, CA, resident, the Pacific Ocean is in Stolz’ backyard, which allows for many boating opportunities. He enjoyed this trip with friend Tara Woglom.

“During my college years I focused on improving my marketing skills by serving as the activities director for the Agribusiness Management Club, and working hard to earn a spot as a selected member of the Cal Poly National Agricultural Marketing Association team,” said Stolz. “Creating an entire marketing campaign from product inception to presentation while competing against other top student teams from prestigious universities and being judged by key agriculture industry leaders was an experience of a lifetime. The confidence and skills gained in the competition, along with earning first place, and being crowned 2015 NAMA National Champions, cemented my desire to pursue a career in sales and marketing management.”

While in college, Stolz got further acquainted with the produce industry while serving as summer intern at Frieda’s Inc. in Southern California.  Earning his millennial chops, after graduation, Stolz began his professional career with the tech giant Oracle as a business development consultant specializing in marketing software solutions. “My experience at Oracle was a terrific training ground in sales and customer support service, and I enjoyed learning from talented proven sales managers and working with very driven and competitive coworkers,” he said.

But his ambition remained agriculture-related. “I always aspired to work at Sunkist, and when I saw that they had an opening in the marketing communications department, I instinctively knew that the position would offer me an opportunity to bring my entire self to the test,” said Stolz. “It had the perfect combination of all of my business skill interests and was based on helping citrus farmers market their fruit — it seemed meant to be.”

Stolz applied for the position and was hired. Today, he reports to Director of Communications Christina Ward. In the position Stolz is responsible for assisting with trade media and PR efforts, Sunkist brand campaigns and digital marketing.

The 25-year-old Stolz sees it as the perfect position. “I am lucky to work for one of the world’s most beloved citrus brands,” he said. “I am eager and determined to make sure future generations continue to recognize and value the quality citrus products that small-town farmers — like my relatives — market through the Sunkist cooperative to kitchen tables. I think it’s fun to represent the cares, interests, habits and trends of the millennial generation in ag. Social media somewhat defines and separates my generation from previous ones, and it will be both fun and challenging to help Sunkist position future marketing campaigns successfully to a multi-generational customer base.”

Like his generational cohorts, Stolz does have a life beyond work. “My biggest passion and hobby is playing volleyball,” he said. “Living in Santa Monica, it is a big part of my weekend and work-life balance to partake in pick-up games with friends, as well as playing in indoor and beach volleyball leagues.”

He didn’t get to play in high school because of the lack of boy’s teams, but he remained involved in the sport. “My love of the sport continued to grow, and I would help assist the girl’s teams and practice competitively with them in my spare time,” said Stolz. “My sister currently plays Division I volleyball for New Mexico State University, and during her prep years, I spent a lot of my free time managing her recruitment process by filming, editing videos, managing social media and communication outreach.”

In fact, the expertise he developed in helping his sister find a suitable college has led to continued participation in the recruitment of volleyball players from his home region. “I still occasionally create recruitment videos, draft letters and build social media platforms for high school students from the Central Valley,” he said. “My goal is to help promote the abundance of local talent from my hometown, and provide the youth with opportunity to expand their college and career aspirations to see the world beyond the Central Valley of California.”

Stolz appears to have a long career ahead of him, and he has clearly started on a path with his name written all over it.