Edgar Terry’s demanding day job all comes back to economics, particularly in the evenings.
As a boy on the family ranch near Ventura, Edgar Terry ’81, MBA ’83, always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“My father was a farmer,” explained the president of Terry Farms Inc., who can trace his family’s farming roots back 100 years. “It is something that I have loved to do from a young age.”
Not long after completing his CLU education, Terry discovered a new and rewarding avocation: teaching working adults at the college level. He’s been lecturing in finance and management in ADEP and the MBA program
He puts in long days at his full-time job. Starting at 7 a.m., he makes rounds to a dozen company sites in Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Fillmore on some 1,800 acres. He spends the rest of the day in meetings and doing administrative work for Terry Farms, which grows peppers, celery, strawberries, spinach and lettuce.
Despite the demanding schedule, he looks forward to his evening classes. “I like the interaction and dialogue. I learn so much from the adult students,” Terry said.
He brings a dose of reality there, laying stress on how to solve problems creatively and work with all types of personalities. Critical thinking skills learned at CLU laid a foundation for his success in business, he said.
“Once you graduate from college, most of what you were taught is obsolete. In essence, you need to re-learn everything again every two years.”
As a medium-sized grower in Ventura County who employs 11 full-time workers and as many as 350 contractors at a time, Terry has to keep learning and remain open to change.
“A lot of people have this bucolic, romantic view of farming,” he said. “Farming does add a lot to a community; however, it always comes back to economics.”
With high labor and production costs, variable demand, food safety requirements and constantly changing regulatory schemes, he sees growers moving to high-value crops such as raspberries and strawberries and to hydroponic growing.
“The organizations that are left in the industry are going to be larger to be able to pay for the costs of compliance,” he summed up.