It’s one thing to grow fruit on 4,000 acres and it’s another thing to develop the facility that packs and ships such a high quantity of product. As a vertically integrated operation, that’s exactly what happens at McDougall & Sons. The McDougall team packs 260,000 bins of apples and pears and 11,000 to 12,000 tons of cherries each year.
Advances in agricultural technology have played a crucial role in the McDougall’s success. “We have a vision in staying a leader in technology, staying a leader in proprietary varieties. We view ourselves as a leader and trying to be at the forefront of the new innovations that are coming out,” Bryon said.
One important technological advancement is “pick and place” robotics, a technology that has developed significantly over the past five to six years. Improvements in camera capabilities have made it possible for robots to sort the McDougall’s fruit for defects in a way that machines had never done before.
While technology is an important factor of the McDougall’s success, they also need a reliable lender to support their innovative investments. That’s where Northwest Farm Credit Services (NWFCS) has stepped in.
“Farm Credit has been an excellent partner of ours. Without their trust in what we’re doing, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission or our vision,” Bryon said. He also appreciates that many of the NWFCS staff that he’s worked with have a deep understanding of agriculture. “A lot of the account reps grew up on farms so they really have that perspective. I think it’s a perfect marriage between agriculture companies and an ag lender.”
In addition to financial support, NWFCS’ educational opportunities have proven influential in the success of the McDougall’s business. Bryon said, “The education offered by Farm Credit really is second to none.”
Tom Howard, relationship manager at NWFCS, appreciates working with Bryon and is excited to help support the technological improvements he’s is making on the farm. “One thing that really makes Bryon successful is that he’s able to communicate his vision clearly. Once a company is aligned on a vision with someone who cares and whom they trust, a company can be very successful.”