My Life With Joe Dutra

Date: September 15, 2014

A farmer-turned-serial-entrepreneur talks location—both how he bucked an industry norm by going local and how international travel has made him a better businessman.

NFIB Member: Joe Dutra
: AllGen
Seeds International; JoMa Organics LLC; Kimmie Candy Co.; Westec Inc.
: 36
Reno, Nevada

What does owning a small business allow you to do that most others don’t get to enjoy?

I’m very fortunate because we do business in a lot of different countries around the world. If I feel like I need to get out of the office and have some adventure, I can go to a distributor in another country. Travel can be business and pleasure. If I want to go to Florida and visit a distributor, or I want to go to Saudi Arabia and visit an agent or go visit my office in Cairo, I have the flexibility to do that as a business owner.

How does traveling help inform your work?

If you want to be in the international market, you have to understand it. That’s really one of the major reasons I travel. You don’t want to sell something that’s not packaged correctly or doesn’t have the right taste profiles. Taking trips allows you to understand the culture of each country.

What are some things you’ve learned from your travels?

Knowledge of cultural preferences and demographics makes a difference on whether or not your product is going to sell. Including a disclaimer in Arabic in Egypt is important. Canada has almost the same population as California, so maybe I don’t need 20 distributors but instead just need two good ones. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t put certain colors on a bag because certain colors in certain cultures are bad luck. In Egypt and some Asian cultures, black is a bad color to put on bags. This knowledge gives me confidence on how to develop business in overseas markets.

What is the best part of your day?

I grew up getting up early; that’s part of my farming background. I always enjoyed the coolness in the morning and always dreaded the 110-degree heat in the cornfields midday. The mornings in Reno are the cool part of the day. At 5:30, I have a cup of coffee. My dogs are nearby. Sometimes there are wild horses at my fence. My home overlooks the city and mountain ranges—it’s very peaceful to look at. I live in the beautiful high desert, and there’s a bit of magic in the early morning.

What makes your city good for business?

Reno’s climate is good for taxes and for making candy. So I brought my Korean candymaker here, and he’s probably one of the top candymakers in the world. And I brought my factory on-shore. Everyone was going the other way for cheaper sugar, labor and other conditions. But it’s made a big difference to be able to say I’m creating American jobs.


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