The Scully Packing company -based in Finley, California- did not really have a normal pear packing season this year. While they had to find ways to deal with the pandemic, they made it through the season without a COVID-19 outbreak.
“We employ a lot of people in the packing house. And we knew that if we couldn’t control the pandemic in our environment, we would be shut down for public safety reasons. It would be a disaster for the 25 growers,” said owner Toni Scully. Thirty five percent of pear production in California comes from Scully’s family business.
“The pandemic affected our business in several ways. On the marketing side, consumer buying habits shifted away from bulk produce and more toward packaged produce. We were able to shift some of our production to pouch bags, which helped,” said general manager and part owner Pat Scully. “Some of our important markets were negatively impacted by the economy. Mexico, the food service industry and large school districts are all very important markets for small pears. All of these outlets were weakened by the pandemic.”
The business owners said the biggest challenge was how the employees handled the pandemic outside the workplace. “Through training, I think we helped mitigate this risk. The bottom line is that we can help control their risks in the workplace, but we have no control of what happens as people are away from work. We feel our employees took the risks very seriously and did what they needed to do to mitigate their risks away from work. Without their help, both at work and when they were away from work, we could not have had a successful season,” he said.