Written by The Business Journal Staff
Deerpoint Group. Inc.
What we do: It’s important to tell you who we are first. I tell people every day that Deerpoint Group is a 23-year-old startup company. We are mature in stature, exceeding the expectations of a mature market in an inefficient marketplace. We are innovators and creators of solutions based fertilizer and water treatment chemical feed programs. We drive a unique value proposition to the grower, giving them control, creating efficiencies and contributing to maximized production while controlling costs. Simply put, we design, manufacture and ship patented bulk specialty fertilizer formulations, and precision feed inputs by managing rate and time of inputs into growers’ irrigation systems. We serve a customer base throughout California and Arizona, and currently working on projects outside of the U.S.
Bullard High School: 1992
Pepperdine University, 1996 (Florence, Italy 1995)
BA Organizational Communication Business Consulting
Family: Wife: Kate, Sons: Jack (16), Max (14), James (12), John (9)
Tell us a little about your career to your current position.
I would consider myself an entrepreneur with a political twist. The power is in your knowledge base and your ability to forge relationships. I had a business interest as well as a political interest at a young age. The two were an obvious fit for me. I chose business over politics when I understood the power was in leveraging policy rather than creating it. (Not to mention, money is made in business, not politics, at least that’s how it should be). In college, I worked for the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, CA and Century City, CA. It was an unpaid internship, but better than money, I saw President Reagan almost daily until 1994. I assisted the Director of Special Events and Public Relations and had the memorable experience of knowing his family, meeting friends, supporters, heads of state, elected officials, foreign dignitaries and secret service professionals.
I built a network of relationships that you couldn’t buy if you had the money. My first job after graduating college was with Netscape Communications Corporation who had just gone public with two business tycoon leaders in Jim Clark and Jim Barksdale. And young software genius, Marc Andreesen, the inventor of the internet browser. Needless to say, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity at a time where there was no internet, or email, until now. Being on the front end of the industry and at the center of the tech boom was invaluable. I wanted to do more than sell; I wanted to solve problems, create efficiencies and apply the value of the tools, quickly learning the return on investment and massive benefits of software applications and e-commerce for the Fortune 500 companies who were my customers.
After a few years, I left software and moved back to Fresno in 1999 with an interest in investment practice and asset management. I brought with me my relationships of venture capital, and tech savvy market disruptors. Many clients were Silicon Valley equity clients who then started planting permanent crops. Then the farming families became the majority of the client base, with second-generation farmers selling farm ground to exchange into credit tenant investments like Walgreens or CVS. I leveraged my software and farming relationships into a unique service business creating the 360-degree Wealth Management Platform utilizing managing equities, debt, options contracts, alternative investment vehicles, merchant banking, private money bridge capital, insurance, and real estate. I consulted business owners and family trusts for 15 years until I met the Deerpoint owners, Deborah and John Miller in 2012.
My current position as CEO of DPG is my dream job, the culmination of a lifetime of recognizing and seizing opportunity. It’s like seeing into the future via crystal ball but you are looking at an almond orchard, citrus grove, grapes or tomato field. Creating opportunities, innovating technology, building talent, sharing success with customers and employees alike. Who doesn’t want to do that every day? It wasn’t a job that was open or available, I created it. The owners of DPG were my investment clients and after getting familiar with the business, I expressed an interest in their business and thought a CEO is just what they needed. Here we are almost 4 years later. I am here to execute the next generation of what Deborah and John Miller worked so hard to start and build. It’s with the vision and the partnerships with employees, customers and suppliers that I can confidently say we are at the forefront of executing the most progressive nutrient solutions on the planet. I am the guy who sees the future and I smile because we are just getting started.
Can you explain what “fertigation” is?
Simply, it’s the injection of fertilizer material in the irrigation system at the filter station. We just happen to build, install and manage a mini chemical manufacturing plant at each grower’s filter station and inject all macro and micro nutrients in their rawest, most available form. Forcing a reaction in the main line, using water to mitigate the reaction. Nobody does what we do because nobody has the capability to react the chemistries like we do. Our specialty blends of macros and micronutrients and foliars are also supremely unique, containing chemistries that don’t allow the nutrients to tie up in the soil or precipitate out of the irrigation zone. Feed the plant what it needs every irrigation cycle, rather than slug it in all at one time. It’s so simple it’s difficult. Athletes eat 5-7 meals per day, metabolize better, ensuring health, fight off disease and produce predictable, reliable results. These athletes also have trainers. We are the trainer. Fertigation the DPG way is literally ingenious.
DPG is coming up on one year at the Freedom Industrial Park in Madera. How do you like the space?
I am hard to please and I love it. It’s undoubtedly the best decision we could have made. The location is ideal for what we do and fits our plans for expansion for another 57,000 square feet of building and rail siding in the future. The open acreage will accommodate our growth into the next chapter of our company. This place was a dirt field and turned into a dream home. King Hussein and the team at SPAN Construction made the impossible happen and built a hallmark. Being the first business in the park was befitting our organization in every way.
Was it hard leaving Fresno?
No, it’s the other way around. Fresno wasn’t too excited to have (keep) us. We looked for two and a half years at existing and proposed design build sites and nothing penciled. The City of Madera, EDC and SPAN, believed in the vision, saw the future and made it happen. DPG is 100% behind the City of Madera, its business, development and expansion. We hire local, we support local. We are in the ideal place to execute our vision. Truly a winning partnership.
What is your outlook in regards to legal marijuana and what it may mean for your industry?
Personally, I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. Speaking for our business, I have rejected current opportunities that have come across my desk and will continue to do so. Commercially, I believe it means more dysfunction created by government. Are there revenue opportunities for the companies who want to feed incremental inputs at small doses? Yes. But at what cost? If you spend more time reporting to government agencies than feeding material to plants, then I say, pass. The California farming industry will attempt to capitalize on the opportunity before fully understanding the certain regulatory and compliance costs. Politically, it’s obvious there is a move afoot to replace what we currently grow with what the government wants us to grow and then regulate and tax the daylights out of it. I see an opportunity for new agencies, taxes, regulations, legal amendments, all created by politicians — masked as job creation and economic revenue drivers for the private farming sector. The obvious contradiction is this is coming from the same group of people who are driving Central Valley farmers who grow and provide food to the world, out of business. Water would have been a better place to focus our energy. Bottom line, nobody I know is going to convert their farming business into marijuana crops.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
I might be the reason why there are no longer gumball machines in pizza parlors. I was 12 years old when I scraped gum off the bottom of pizza parlor tables. I learned the owners should have removed the gumball machines. The labor they spent remediating was more than the pennies they collected per gumball. They ultimately did just that. Working hard but staying focused on the big picture to change the game. I learned that there is opportunity for everyone, that nobody holds you back but yourself. Set your goals, establish and leverage, learn and listen, Basically, I learned to self-actualize. And for me, it’s been a game changer.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Short answer: Faith, Family, Friends and Food. I am a family man first, and spend my free time with my wife, kids, parents, grandparents, in-laws and friends. I am a self-admitted foodie, when we are not cooking, I can be found at many of the best local food establishments enjoying and supporting our local restaurants. My wife Kate and I attend countless games every weekend – the result of having four boys. They eat and play sports so that’s what we do. We sprinkle in snow sports, water sports and beach vacations. I couldn’t tell you which I prefer more. Really, we are blessed beyond belief and find Fresno to have some of the most well centered, like-minded people of class and character. Many of which are customers of DPG. We have built relationships with family friends that I would not trade for anything.