Mitch Coit

PRESIDENT AND OWNER OF MARV COIT INC.

FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the AgSnacc Podcast where we take a look at careers in agriculture and the journey toward those careers. I’m your host, Erin Gorter, and we hope you enjoy this tasty AgSnacc. 

 

Erin Gorter  

All right, so today on AgSnacc, we are actually going to vision or visit with a real live farmer. Oh my gosh, I can't even talk today. It's Friday. So, a real life farmer so we have Mitch Coit who is the president and owner of Marv Coit Inc. Good morning, Mitch. How are you? 

 

Mitch Coit 

Good morning doing okay. 

 

Erin Gorter  

Doing okay. Alright. So please go ahead and tell us what, what you do and what life is like in the day in life of a farmer here in California. 

 

Mitch Coit

I am a partner owner in a diversified farming operation. We farm permanent crops such as almonds and pistachios and row crops such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, cotton, wheat, corn, and we're doing some parsley this year as well. And we farm about 4300 acres we're here in the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno Merced counties. And a day in the life of me is usually unpredictable. I try to stay as organized and try to be in a routine as much as I can. But every day offers a new challenge. And I'm running around in my truck a lot. I'm in the office a lot. I'm on a computer a lot. I'm getting my hands dirty a lot. So there's a lot of different tasks on my plate. 

 

Erin Gorter 

Yeah, so even when Mitch and I were visiting before we started this little recording this morning, we were talking about the giant rainstorm that we've seen the past couple days. It is the end of January right now if you want a time reference, and we got a whole bunch of rain and Mitch was reflecting on leaving work last night being a little bit devastated because things were flooding. But today the sun is out and it's a better day. That's probably a good depiction of what your life is like from day to day. 

 

Mitch Coit 

Certainly have to maintain a healthy level of optimism in farming, there's always things that are trying to sweep you off your feet. 

 

Erin Gorter  

Yeah, and things you can't control like the weather. Awesome. So here at AgSnacc, we like to get a little bit of a picture of what life was like growing up. So take a moment and share with us a little bit about your high school experience. What was school like for you? Were you involved in any sports or extracurricular activities? Do share. 

 

Mitch Coit  

So I attended high school in Las Banos High School and I began High School playing football, baseball, was very involved in sports and kind of got down a little bit of a troubled path where I did not continue to play football or baseball my next year, I got into a little bit of trouble. I had to pay the consequences of that while being pretty much in prison, and I refer to prison as working at the ranch all summer long and not having any social life. But I was able to make some money and learn a tremendous amount about hard work ethic and what it takes to to be a little man I guess at that time, but I kind of got back on my feet later on and I played football senior year and just loved it. I was the most improved player and I was in ag mechanics. I really enjoyed high school I had a lot of fun. I got a lot of stuff out of I think just out of my system which benefited me in in my future. 

 

Erin Gorter  

So then what did you do after high school? 

 

Mitch Coit  

I attended college at Chico State. And I was an Ag Business major and leaving high school, I was undetermined what I really wanted to do. I was considering construction, I ended up going into ag business. And I got introduced to a couple different classes, mainly my ag production classes that really drew my attention and kind of got me hooked on a side of farming that I had never really been introduced to and that's the agronomy side and production side of agriculture. 

 

Erin Gorter 

So when you were in high school, you didn't know what you wanted to be when you grew up like no idea. 

 

Mitch Coit

I didn't have an idea. I'll be completely honest with you, I think I was living more for the moment than the future. I had all these different aspirations that were probably way too far-fetched and not realistic. And, and I was truly living in the moment in that time of my life. 

 

Erin Gorter 

So when you graduated from Chico, did you immediately come back and work for Marv Coit Inc. or... 

 

Mitch Coit 

So it was kind of traumatic, my father passed away when I was a junior in college, and I was 21 years old. Prior to that point, I kind of had my goal set on being a PCA at that time, and I starkly realized that, that we were going to have to make a decision on whether we wanted to manage the farm. And "we" I'm referring to my brother. So that's exactly what we did. And I contemplated dropping out of college, I was going to do it if necessary, we kind of kept everything standing up, right and I was able to return and continue my college education. I took the rest of my time in college with an entirely new perspective and a lot more serious. Being that there was a cost to me not being there. And it was a high cost of me not knowing what was going on at times and not having the, I guess, the true verification that things were going okay back on the farm with my brother. I instilled a lot of trust in him and I was very proud of the things that he was able to accomplish while I continued my education. 

 

Erin Gorter 

How is education and work kind of viewed in your household when you were growing up. 

 

Mitch Coit 

Education, I was very privileged growing up and that both of my parents were highly educated. My parents were not together growing up and my dad lived out here at the ranch, my mom lived in Las Banos. However, my dad has an MBA, a Master's in business. And my mom also finished up her master's education while I was growing up and she's a teacher administrator. So I there was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to pursue and complete higher education, it was an expectation and it was incentivized by my parents to me, where it really truly was the easiest route and best route to grow up for me. 

 

Erin Gorter  

So thinking now on your current position and running the operation, what is your kind of favorite part about your day at work? 

 

Mitch Coit 

My favorite part is driving around and not being in the office scene. Just watching the crops grow, checking fields.  Whether I'm out, you know, probing moisture. Just being out in the field is my favorite part. Obviously, the more rewarding experiences when you are successful on certain crops, when a crop looks very good or things just go right. That's a very rewarding experience. But being out in the field in general is certainly a blessing every day that I have the opportunity to do that. 

 

Erin Gorter 

What's the most challenging part? 

 

Mitch Coit 

The most challenging part is I think just the challenges that come along with the uncertainties of farming. There truly are times where I have lost all hope and there's not somebody to go to for advice, there is no right answer. You can't look up what it is because it is so multifaceted that all of these things go into the large picture of farming that you can only do the best that you can do and a lot of that comes with experience and we all farm different ground under different scenarios where we're, you know, we have different water sources. We grow different crops. So no two farms is really the same. So it's very difficult to be able to get advice and, and maintain that sense of confidence that, hey, you are doing something that is profitable Profitability is not easy in farming here in California. 

 

Erin Gorter 

I want to ask you a question that I guess I didn't give you on the list of proposed question. So this is a surprise question. Because you referred to earlier, when you got in trouble in high school, and then you said you had to stay at home and work on the prison. You called it prison working at home, right? That's what you referred to it as? 

 

Mitch Coit 

Um, well, working on the ranch. 

 

Erin Gorter  

Yeah, working on the ranch was like prison. Okay, but that's what you do now every day for a living, right? So at what point in your life, did it become no longer a prison. And this is something that I want to do, and enjoy. 

 

Mitch Coit  

So when I grew up working on the ranch from a very, very young child, through high school, I don't know why my dad really never said, hey, son, I need you to start thinking about more managerial type things, rather than just that tedious mind numbing work, where it's either driving tractor, or when I was young, I was doing back breaking work. That's why it was prison. I mean, it was irrigation, sitting in the sun for 100, you know, 110 degree days all day. It was very difficult and challenging work. And my friends, were doing things and when I came back, I felt like "Whoa, I can't believe I missed out on all the fun." However, when I took ownership of the ranch and gained that new perspective, like hey, this is yours, these are all the challenges and things that you have to learn to be successful in doing this. And applying those things that I learned in college was really fun because I learned a tremendous amount in college. With the agricultural program, I had a minor in agriculture and had all my classes to make me eligible for getting my PCA license, I took a lot of agricultural production classes along with my Ag Business major, and being able to apply all of that information was really phenomenal and seeing your hard work pay off. That's when it became fun. And now I love it so much. It's my number one passion, I can't see myself doing anything different. 

 

Erin Gorter   

Do you think there's almost a shift in your mindset between like, when you separate yourself, like I'm doing this work for somebody else to like you said, taking ownership and I'm doing this work for me and like being proud of what you just did? 

 

Mitch Coit  

For me. That certainly is and I think that's one of the secrets to probably being a good leader or manager is giving people that same type of ownership feeling because we've been doing this for so long that I've always been the one in that position and it certainly fills me and motivates me, definitely. I could, I guess empathize from a imaginary perspective that it must be tough to find the motivation without having that and I've been blessed to have throughout my work being a farmer. 

 

Erin Gorter 

Good thoughts. I like your thoughts. I'll switch gears to something more fluffy. You produce a lot of crops, many things that could be considered Ag Snaccs. What is your favorite Ag Snacc to consume? 

 

Mitch Coit  

My favorite Ag Snacc. Well, I love the chili pistachios that wonderful produces. I love those. Almonds, I love almonds. I love all vegetables. I am a vegetable-aholic, I eat so many vegetables. I go to the grocery store and just load up the cart with vegetables. My favorite snack would probably be almonds and pistachios. That's what I typically have in the truck and I'm snacking on 

 

Erin Gorter  

 Good choices. I have a vegetable follow up question. How do you feel about brussels sprouts? 

 

Mitch Coit  

I like them. They've got to be done right. They could be done bad. But, bacon is a great compliment to brussel sprouts. 

 

Erin Gorter  

Bacon elevates everything. 

 

Mitch Coit 

We do brussel sprouts, quite often usually barbeque.  

 

Erin Gorter 

It's a polarizing vegetable. So I thought I would ask a fan of vegetables. So, I think this might be a little bit, I don't know challenging to identify, maybe not specific internships or volunteer opportunities that high school students could do to gain more skill to be in a position like yours, are there other things they might be able to take advantage of to gain skills that kind of help you in your role now? 

 

Mitch Coit  

I think internships are great. I was fortunate enough growing up on a farm to to have a kind of natural internship. But I did also have lots of friends that had parents that were able to motivate them and find them opportunities to do internships with like PCA being field scouts. That was a very common one. And I think that's a good opportunity, if somebody could find it. Being a field scout is hard work. It's pretty simple work so you don't have to be a high, high skilled person. But you usually work under a PCA and could learn a lot about not only being a PCA, but about being a farmer as well, and all aspects of agriculture. 

 

Erin Gorter 

Yeah, and I think you also brought up the point earlier of making sure that no matter what you're doing, like you kind of understand how much work goes into all levels of it. And then I guess, taking ownership of the projects that you do attempt to do so that you have that kind of I don't know, intrinsic buy-in and want to make things better? Yeah. So if you could go back to high school, Mitch, who sounds like he was wild, and give him one biggest piece of advice, what would it be? 

 

Mitch Coit  

Well, I don't know, it's easy to apply hindsight to that and say, well, you know, you should have done this, you could have done this. But in reality, and in life, I will say that everything happens for a reason. And sometimes, just like when we were fighting this creek yesterday, and it was flooding. We thought that, hey, we patch this up right here we're going to be smooth sailing, but you patch that up and it brings the elevation of the creek up higher and then it breaks over there and it floods something else out. So, there were a lot of things that happened in high school that I think I've benefited from where I'm just kind of maybe realizing that now. But I would say definitely stay involved. Stay connected with your friends, stay involved in sports, work hard. use that time to cultivate a work ethic because a work ethic is going to get you further than anything else. And it is harder to develop the longer you wait in life. It is something where the harder you work right now, the easier it's going to be for you to maintain that work ethic going forward. High School is a time where you should have a lot of fun and I mean work hard, play hard was always my motto. So enjoy it. Definitely enjoy it and find a balance between working hard and playing hard. 

 

Erin Gorter  

Good advice and I like that everything happens for a reason. And you might not know those reasons till many, many years later, but it happens for a reason so, good advice. Well again, we're here today on Ag Snacc with Mitch Coit, president and owner of Marv Coit Inc, a production operation in the Central Valley of California. Thank you for your time today, Mitch. 

 

Mitch Coit 

Thank you Erin. It's nice talking with you. 

Thank you for listening to this AgSnacc, a production of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in collaboration with the South Coast Region Agricultural Education Consortium. For more information, please visit our website at www.agsnacc.com. That’s www.a-g-s-n-a-c-c.com