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As a grandson of a Ukrainian immigrant, he built a multi-billion dollar fruit and nuts business in the USA

Stewart and Linda Resnick, a married couple, managed to build a business empire for The Wonderful Company and become the largest farmers in North America: their company's turnover in 2017 amounted to almost $ 5 billion. For decades, Americans fed fruit, vegetables and nuts from orchards in California.

Фото: Depositphotos

Stuart Resnick

Like many billionaires, Stuart Resnick finds it difficult to explain how he became rich, writes the publication “Company's secret".

He claims: he was helped by luck and a few simple lessons that he learned at the very beginning of life. When Resnick was 13, he got a job at the pharmacy Rutgers pharmacy... On the first day, the boss showed him a pantry full of bottles of medicine scattered here and there, and ordered him to put things in order. Stewart didn't know where to start, the mountains of bottles looked intimidating. The boss soon returned and saw that Stewart had done nothing, and told him, "Just start."

The most important thing is to immerse yourself in the work, Stewart realized. “Just start” has become one of his basic life principles.

Reznik never drove a tractor and did not wield a shovel. For him, land is numbers. Figures on an unprecedented scale. He grew up in New Jersey, where his father ran a bar. The ancestors of Stuart Reznik come from Ukraine, the grandfather and grandmother fled from the Jewish pogroms to America at the beginning of the 20th century. Stewart graduated from law school, worked as a janitor in Los Angeles, a seller of security systems, a seller of flowers, water bottles from Fiji, and only closer to the age of forty he became a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley. His wife Linda and her natural talent for marketing helped him to succeed.

The power of marketing Linda Resnick

Linda grew up in the family of film producer Jack Harris, because she was on the big screen as a child, and in 19 years she opened her own advertising agency, the newspaper writes.Names".

In 1971, she was involved in declassifying domestic government documents on US-Vietnamese relations. Her young man, Anthony Rousseau, worked with military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who made the secret data public. Linda also helped copy documents on the equipment in his office. Despite the illegality of her actions, Linda does not hesitate to say that if she had to, she would have done the same thing again in the name of the triumph of truth and justice.

With her second husband, Stuart Reznik, Linda met in the advertising business. Her services Resnick recommended a mutual friend. Stewart at that time owned a business servicing buildings with a staff of a thousand people in 1. Already in 1973, the couple got married and joined forces to develop new companies. Their first joint purchase was the flower delivery business. Teleflora in 1979 year. Linda rethought the very idea of ​​selling flowers and carried out a successful advertising campaign under the slogan "Flowers with a gift" - the bouquet will dry up, but the soft toy and the vase will remain for long memory. In 1985, spouses purchased Franklin Mint, traded commemorative coins and medallions. Under the leadership of Linda, the company took up models of vintage cars, dolls and jewelry.

Since 1978, Rezniki decided to take up farming to insure their capital against possible inflation. For starters, they bought about 10 million square meters. m of land planted with citrus trees, and after 10 years, after the strongest drought in the region at that time, tens of thousands more square meters, planted with almonds, pistachios and citrus trees, were purchased at reduced prices. By 1996, their company Paramount farms It has become the largest producer and supplier of pistachios and almonds in the world - with a turnover of $ 1,5 billion. Today, the holding earns $ 4,8 billion a year from the supply of these products, processing over 526 square meters. km

Special attention is given to the production of pomegranate juice by the company. Paramount Farms. Linda Resnick specifically ordered a scientific study of the benefits of pomegranates. When it turned out that pomegranate juice contains more antioxidants than red wine, she decided to allocate the sale of juice in a separate direction. A new company was established in 2001. Pom and brand PM for the sale of juice in small glass jars, with an emphasis on the special benefits of the product for the heart. For the national advertising campaign, a completely aggressive slogan was chosen: “Deceive death”.

Photo: Wonderful Company

The brand became a real sensation in the market of healthy products - and by the end of the same year brought the company millions of dollars. Linde Resnik the success of pomegranate juice brought fame to the real marketing genius. On the other hand, the Federal Trade Commission decided that the properties of pomegranate as an opposition to heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction are too exaggerated in advertising. Linda Resnick considered such a decision extremely unfair. In her opinion, fruits and their health benefits should not be assessed by the same parameters as the effect of the drugs and the medicines themselves.

Convinced of the effectiveness of sales of health products, Linda came up with a new strategy for water. Fiji in bottles. This product was positioned as a healthy alternative to ordinary water, because the latter "can contain up to 4 thousand polluting elements."

Almond, with a light feed Resnick, has become an effective means to strengthen the cardiovascular system, tangerines - the best snack for children, and nutrient-rich, but low-calorie pistachios - a nut for weight loss. Advertising campaign Get crackin ' for pistachios, deployed in 2014 year, cost in $ 15 million and became the most ambitious in the history of the promotion of nuts of all kinds. The television commercial was shown during the NFL finals, where the main role was played by famous actor and TV host Steven Colbert. For three months, sales of pistachios increased 2 + times, and over the year they brought the manufacturer $ 114 million. So Linda Reznik proved that money still grows on trees.

Charity

Having succeeded in making "fruit" money, Rezniki decided to engage in socially useful projects. They allocated $ 15 million for the creation of a neuropsychiatric clinic at the University of California at Los Angeles; transferred $ 35 million for the development of the Museum of Art in Los Angeles; sent $ 20 million to create a research institute for the development of technologies more economical consumption of resources. Wonderful company says that specialists managed to bring a variety of almond tree, which gives 30% more yield, using the same amount of water and other resources - and therefore brings more money, while saving.

Linda and Stewart decided to build a better world, starting with themselves and their inner circle - and therefore took up the improvement of the village of their employees called Lost Hills.

Water consumption

Also for many years, their company, consuming a huge amount of water, has repeatedly raised the issue of the need to modernize the water infrastructure of California. However, until recently, few politicians and influential figures in the region drew attention to such appeals - until California was hit by a drought, which has been going on for the 4 of the year.

Linda Resnick is surprised that it took too long for California politicians to realize the importance of good water policy and start taking action. The last 80 years, the system of dams, canals and reservoirs so reliably provided residents with water that they began to take its work for granted and a permanent phenomenon. However, due to the transportation of water from the largest natural estuary of the West Coast during the drought period, the reservoir was on the verge of disaster. Last year, for the first time, the state restricted water supply to the Central Valley from the northern part of the state.

In many respects, this region is the most favorable place in the States for growing fruit and nut trees. The Mediterranean combination of cold winters and hot summer months is ideal for all periods of flowering, fruit set and ripening. But natural precipitation in the Central Valley is catastrophically low: total 20% of the amount needed to grow almonds or pistachios. One season without supplying water through a special canal system from Northern California can negate the 5 years of working farmers. Because of the reduction in water supply, it is the large companies that will suffer the most, including Rezniki, who annually use more than 400 billion liters of water for irrigation of orchards. And this - despite the fact that Wonderful company introduces all sorts of modern technology to reduce and reuse water.

Rezniki took up the search for groundwater. Thanks to their exploration, California began to extract about 7 thousand cubic meters a year. m of groundwater is relative to the total amount of water that all Texas households consume over the same period. However, due to drilling, the soil in the region began to sink, causing accidents on bridges and canals. Although the authorities approved the first ever state standards for working with groundwater, no one has the right to restrict drilling in the coming 4, due to the continuing drought in California.

If the farmers initially took up the development of underground sources in order to preserve their lands, then over time they began to use them to expand their business. In 10, the area of ​​almond groves in California has increased by 47%, and the area of ​​pistachio plantations has doubled - this was the way the development of Linda Reznik's successful advertising campaign spurred the development of the industry. Today, these nuts are among the ten best-selling salty snacks in the US, and the factory Wonderful company Lost Hills is the largest pistachio producer in the world. From one acre (about 4 thou. Sq. M.) Of pistachio trees Resniki receive more than $ 3,5 thou. This is 4 times more than the same area planted with tomatoes brings, and 18 times more than 1 acre cotton. It is no wonder that Stuart Resnick plans to increase the area under pistachio trees by 2020% by 40 year. Given the steady growth in demand and income stability, Rezniki will find a way to provide their new plantations with water.

Play by water rules

But even with the support of solid capital In California, it is extremely difficult to make changes to water legislation. One of the oldest and least mobile sections of local law is now, during adverse weather conditions, it's time to revise or even cancel. But the paradox lies precisely in the fact that due to the continuing California drought, local authorities refuse to revise water legislation. Therefore, the state has a century-old norms, according to which, for example, cattle farms receive water in the first place, while small villages in the central part of the state are forced to be content with imported water and take a shower from buckets and barrels.

But Resnicki found a way to use it to their advantage. In 1993, the fish control authorities of the United States introduced small smelt fish to the list of endangered species, and the salmon population was recognized as constantly declining. In this regard, recommendations were made to limit the pumping of water from reservoirs, where these species multiplied and which, in combination, supplied the farms of the Central Valley with water. Then Resnicki joined forces with colleagues from neighboring districts 5 to search for alternative sources of water supply. They developed a legislative change plan that was proposed to the local authorities. According to the plan, farmers received the right to dispose of an underground water shaft. Kern water bank in the southern part of the Central Valley, transferring its "water on paper" to the authorities. This meant that farmers gave the state the theoretical right to dispose of excess water resources that flow into reservoirs from heavy rainfall. The obsolete rule of law has always existed only on paper: in reality, there has never been so much rainfall in this region so that excess water is available. From 1995, all the water in the specified underground storage (more than 1,5 bn liters) was transferred to farmers, in proportion to the volume of “water on paper”, which they refused. Rezniki, thus, have at their disposal most of the stocks.

Over the next 15 years, the reservoir was regularly replenished with rain and water from underground sources. According to official data, in 2007, Reznikov’s enterprises used almost 800 billion liters of water from Kern water bank. The water went not only to irrigate fruit and nut plantations, but also to the local and national water system in order to provide water to local homes and farms. The entrepreneurs built connecting canals to supply the region with water from the underground storage, taking care of sufficient water supply to ordinary Californians. The “Wonderful Company” itself, with its stable irrigation, allowed it to develop fruit and nut business even more intensively.

The peculiarity of outdated documentation and legal norms unexpectedly presented Reznikov with the opportunity to earn money on water. It turned out that the owners of the farmlands on which the gardens are today are located Wonderful companyhave the right to sell water for the state’s central water system. Thanks to access to Kern water bank Reznikov had an excess of water, which they were able to send to other farmers in the region. In the period from 2000 to 2007, the Reznikov enterprise spent $ 28 per 1,2 cube on water extraction. m, and sold it to the central water supply system at a price of $ 196 for the same volume. Helping other farmers to survive without access to groundwater, Rezniki earned about $ 30 million.

The house that built Rezniki

In the village of Lost Hills, few people in the course of water battles at the political level. There are much more concerned about the immediate problems. Since 1990, the population has doubled, because with the improvement of living conditions, families began to develop, many seasonal workers Wonderful company decided to stay in Lost Hills forever. In this regard, housing prices have also increased, although the social level of residents is far from high or even average. More than half of the residents of the village are already younger than 23, of which a quarter lives below the poverty line. Of the four adults, only one has a high school diploma. Many moved to Lost Hills when he was on the verge of extinction, and now they are captured by the economy: life in the village has risen in price, but not at the expense of increasing the incomes of residents, but due to external subsidies of the Reznikov enterprise.

Administration Wonderful company makes a lot of effort to improve the lives of their employees. At their disposal, in addition to high-quality working conditions and an improved town, fitness programs, computer courses, evening cinema. There are cafeterias and canteens on the territory of the company, as well as its own production of fresh food for regular and seasonal employees. The diet of employees is given special attention: fruits and nuts in a cafe, for example, are available free of charge and in any quantity. For those who want to lose weight, there is a special compensation program in proportion to each kilogram dropped.

Wonderful company established clinics right on the premises of Lost Hills and the neighboring town of Delano. Treatment for workers there is absolutely free. Interestingly, Stuart Resnick considers such a policy not a charity, but an investment that pays off by increasing the productivity of employees who receive timely qualified assistance, and by reducing the cost of medical insurance.

A similar policy of mutually beneficial investment is practiced in the field of education. Special fund Wonderful education is headed by Noemi Donoso, who previously ran Chicago’s public schools. In 2015, the organization has mastered $ 9,3 million of funds, of which $ 2 million is for grants to teachers and scholarships in colleges in Central Valley. In addition, the fund allocates up to $ 6 thousand per year for future college education for children of employees. Donoso oversees the introduction of an agricultural vocational training course at six public schools in Delano. A building for a preparatory academy is being built there, the cost of the project is $ 25 million. The company intends to train personnel for its own needs, and these will not be employees in the fields, well qualified specialists.

Hollywood parties

Personal mansion Reznikov called Sunset house area 2,3 thousand square meters. m stands out even against the backdrop of the overall luxury and imposing Beverly Hills. To care for the house, parking on the 22 car and lawn in 2 thousand square meters. m, the estate is constantly working 7 people. In the days of receptions here, additional servants are always hired. Receptions in the house of Reznikov are famous for their elegance, and among the guests are usually the main actors of Hollywood. Los Angeles Business Journal compares the lunch invitation to Linde Reznik with the nomination for Oscar - with the only difference that the attention of Mrs. Resnick invariably cause you more enthusiasm.

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