Lowell, Ore., U.S. – Valerie Shepler has joined Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., as commercial manager for the United States and Canada, where she is responsible for establishing and developing strong relationships with the company’s blueberry nursery and genetics customers, overseeing the implementation and administration of new plant preview and genetics licensing programs, and managing the customer service, sales, and grower support team. Based in the company’s Lowell, Ore. office, she reports to Scott Cully, regional director for the U.S. and Canada, and Jason Wolcott, commercial director for Fall Creek globally.
“Val already has relationships with many of Fall Creek’s customer-growers,” says Cully. “Those relationships, her fruit and berry experience, and her commitment to customer success are a winning combination.”
Shepler has more than 30 years of management experience in the agricultural industry. Most recently, she was vice president of strategic sourcing and analysis for Milne Fruit Products, Inc. in Prosser, Wash., where she was responsible for raw fruit and vegetable procurement and grower relations. Previously, as Milne’s commercial vice president and liaison to its partner Graceland Fruit, she expanded volume in the blueberry procurement program by more than three times by increasing the company’s grower base. She used the successful blueberry program strategy to create organic blueberry and conventional raspberry and cranberry procurement programs for the company. Before joining Milne, she was planning manager for Tree Top, Inc. in Selah, Wash., responsible for production planning, capacity allocation, and inventory management.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me to take a step up to the very start of the supply chain, helping blueberry growers in this mature market to improve crop quality and trial new varieties,” says Shepler. “I’ve been a blueberry buyer for the processing industry for the past 10 years and crossed paths with people from Fall Creek on a number of occasions. I always came away with a strong impression of their professionalism and genuine commitment to the industry. After learning more about the company, I knew I wanted to be a part of its growth.”
In addition to its catalog of open varieties, Fall Creek offers new blueberry genetics through the Fall Creek Collection platform, which provides producers a line of premium varieties with high productivity and good quality fruit for all chill levels. Fall Creek Collection licensees have access to current and new varieties, along with applied research and technical horticultural support, access to trial sites, and information on commercial evaluation results from regions that have already entered production.
“Val will lead our efforts in introducing the preview plant program in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the addition of new high chill varieties in the Fall Creek Collection,” says Wolcott. “Her supply chain experience, knowledge of our customers, and connection to Fall Creek’s values and roots in the Pacific Northwest position her well for success in her new role.”
Shepler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. She is an active member of the Juice Products Association and the American Frozen Foods Institute.
Founded 40 years ago by the Brazelton family in Lowell, Ore., U.S., Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc, breeds and delivers blueberry varieties, nursery stock and grower support to commercial fruit growers.
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