family background/Cami earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Central Washington University and is working on her master’s degree in business at Eastern Washington University. She is the daughter of Paul Brandt.
crops/cherries, pears and apples
How did you get your start?
I always enjoyed running my dad’s fruit stand. I got to meet so many different people and network with a mix of different customers. I learned sales early on in my life. As soon as I could start counting money, I was out there taking it.
Working sales from an early age helped sculpt my educational path and work direction. From early on, it’s been a challenge for me to be a little more extroverted.
Having that practice, where I had to talk to strangers, pushed me out of my comfort level. That experience has been a good tool for me, because my job is to talk to strangers and talk to a lot of people.
Why did you choose to go into farming?
Well, I don’t think it’s any dad’s dream to have their daughter work on an orchard their whole life. There’s a lot of positives and there’s a lot of negatives to having this lifestyle. I’ve been pushed very hard my whole life to consider if there was something more I wanted to do.
My dad wanted to make sure that I didn’t make this decision because that’s what we do, and I didn’t want to get caught in that. I really took the time to consider what I wanted to do, which is why I went to school for a business degree.
I could have as many options as possible, and I could work in any industry. I decided to go in agriculture because of the relationships. For me, loyalty is really important. I wanted to work with people that I grew up with.
What did you learn when you were starting out?
When I started working for Legacy Fruit, they were going through a lot of changes. I’m a fifth-generation person in agriculture from this area and, at the time, I was a little more unique in the company.
There’s many new faces coming into the industry, there’s introductions with different corporations and different larger companies that are bringing in new people. Because of those factors, I learned pretty quickly that my experience growing up on a farm is more beneficial than what I realized. It really, really is.
Growing up on a farm, everything I did, from an early age — learning how to track bins and learning how to check fruit, learning how to even go get parts — all of that stuff comes together to create a really good foundation for you to grow off of.
What’s your perspective on learning off-farm?
I was able to study the things that I wasn’t learning on the farm by going to college. I went out to learn marketing. I got to learn a lot of a lot of different facets of business that maybe you don’t experience on your 40-acre family farm.
Legacy has been vital for helping and encouraging continued education; they really push people to learn. If you’re willing to put in the work to do more, they’re gonna push you to do more. I want to be actively engaged and learning all the time. As a field representative, my job is to advocate for growers.
I assist with the horticulture part of growing fruit, I assist with the receiving of their fruit, the packing of their fruit, the storage of their fruit, and I try to understand the sales of their fruit. Because the more I understand what’s going on, the more I can explain and educate growers to help them along the way.
What were you looking to get out of college?
My original plan at Central Washington University was to get a general degree in business. I took my first human resources class, which at the time I didn’t even know what HR was.
Through HR, I started to learn that it’s a mix of skills of how you work together with people. I was very interested that HR is very heavy in providing trainings and education, which is something very near and dear to my heart.
I was excited to find this part of business was so focused on helping people, engaging and educating employees. These were things that I really enjoy doing.
What other skills have you worked on for your job?
I began my career as an introvert, even though my job revolves around talking to people. It can be a little intimidating for me at times, and more so after I started my career. I was able to join the Agricultural Leadership Program, and it pushed me to network and communicate with people.
Part of the program is working with a mentor, and that pushed me out of my comfort zone, which in my case was to develop better communication skills. That investment has helped me do my job better and to manage relationships, whether that’s in a business setting or personal setting.
What advice do you have for other young growers?
When you’re young and you come into the industry, one of the most intimidating things you tell yourself is that you don’t know the answers. People are going to look at you and they are going to know you don’t know the answers. And that’s OK.
The best thing you can do is have the attitude that you’re ready to learn. If you’re teachable, then people are going to want to teach you. This industry is so unique, where we have generational knowledge that’s being passed on.
We have so many people in this industry that have been here a long time and want to teach the next generation. Close your mouth at times and open your ears and listen to what people have to say. They’re going to teach you more than you could ever expect.