Merritt Bruce, Church Brothers Farms’ Vice President of Retail Business Development, Reveals Retirement
- by Jordan Okumura
SALINAS, CA - A wealth of knowledge, decades of memories, and friendships and relationships too rich to put into words—these are just a few of the many things that Merritt Bruce will be taking with him as he retires from his role as Church Brothers Farms’ Vice President of Retail Business Development this week. With 36 years under his belt, Merritt has seen the landscape of fresh produce change while being a part of its evolution and progressive impact.
As we approach May 28, Merritt’s official day of retirement, the industry veteran joins me to share a few words for his fresh produce friends and what we can expect next from this advocate, leader, and incredible human.
“I would like to thank all the amazing people I have had the opportunity to meet and work with over the years. You are all truly incredible and make the impossible happen every day,” Merritt shares. “I will miss this fun, innovative, hard-working, and, sometimes, crazy tribe of people.”
Always the avid adventurer, one thing is for sure: His idea of retirement is far from a step back, but instead onto a new, exciting path, laid out on his own terms.
“I am looking forward to lots of extended travel with my wife, Stephanie; finding some volunteer work to stay busy; and as much skiing, biking, and surfing as possible,” Merritt tells me as we share a nod over our mutual love of snow and adventure.
I had the pleasure of meeting Merritt early on in my career, nearly 10 years ago, and he was always ready with an arsenal of information, an air of mentorship, and a confidence that made those around him lean into his insights. He has remained such an advocate and source of wisdom every single day that I have had the honor of knowing him. And many others feel the same.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Merritt in two different roles over the past 10 years. When I think of Merritt, his kindness, knowledge, and desire to help others—these are the traits that truly stand out,” Jennifer Wagner Sanchez, Director of Marketing, Church Brothers Farms, and longtime colleague of Merritt, expresses to me. “I have learned so much from him over the years and I know so many others—customers, coworkers, and friends, have been positively impacted by their interactions with Merritt. I wish him all the best in his retirement and upcoming travels with his wonderful wife, Stephanie!"
Before joining Church Brothers in 2019, Merritt was Vice President of Sales at Growers Express from 2013 to 2019. While in this role, his responsibilities ranged from strategic planning and retail business development to sales team, supply chain, and account management. Before that, Merritt spent time with Bruce Church Company.
With such an impactful journey, another industry friend took to the page to share his thoughts with us on Merritt’s retirement.
“Merritt is a great guy whose experience and broad perspective are only exceeded by his great attitude and positive outlook. I’ve known him for many years since our days together at Bruce Church, FreshCo, and Fresh Express,” Rex Lawrence, Founder and President, Joe Produce Search reflects. “Selfishly, I’m sad to see our industry lose him, but I’m sure happy for him! No doubt he has plenty of adventures and activities planned for the next 40 years or so.”
A huge congrats to Merritt Bruce on an incredible legacy in this industry and the exciting path ahead. I will meet you at Kirkwood next season, my friend—until then, enjoy the open road!