Name: Matt McCort
Occupation/Business: EVP & COO, shareholder, equity member – Country Sweet Produce, Inc. & CSP Properties, LLC
Why did you move to Bakersfield? Family. My wife was born and raised in Bakersfield, and we had an agreement when we married that if she gave me five years in my hometown, that we’d spend the rest of our lives in hers. Bakersfield has become home: our family is here, our future is here, and we take pride in this community.
Tell us how you got into your field. I started my career in consumer packaged goods manufacturing/sourcing/marketing, transitioned to oil services/construction upon moving to Bakersfield, but soon fell in love with agriculture (the people, commodities, markets, and ever-changing environment) when I began managing agriculture investments, before transitioning to the grower-packer-shipper side of the business. My mom’s side of the family's roots are in stone fruits, nuts and row crops, so agriculture has always been a part of my life.
What is your "why?" (Why do you get out of bed every morning and do what you do?) Creating the world I want to live in. I believe that if you don’t like something about your situation, or want to make something better, and/or create something new, you have the choice and amazing opportunity each day to make it happen; to create the world you want to live, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, brick-by-brick. I know many people who would rather complain about, than own, their reality. Use that energy to create something better!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Don’t waste any of your precious, God-given time, feeling sorry for yourself.”
What is the biggest challenge in the marketplace/business that you’ve overcome? The COVID-19 pandemic is easily the biggest opportunity I’ve ever encountered in my career; we have the opportunity to evolve our business model, redefine and strengthen our relationships with people (team members, vendors, customers, consumers), and thrive together in a smarter, more sustainable and equitable way than ever before. We just have to continue to work together in a proactive, unselfish way.
What is your proudest achievement of your career thus far? Helping lead a business and team in a direction that has allowed us not just to survive, but to thrive through these last two years, improving the quality of life for all stakeholders, in spite of the negativity surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s next for you in your career? Continuing to vertically integrate our company and processes, streamlining our business model, increasing our use of technology/data, and in so doing, sharpening our focus in order to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving market with our Bako Sweet brand, other products and services.
What advice would you give to other young professionals and entrepreneurs in Bakersfield? Our Bakersfield community has some of the best, most supportive people anywhere, so make a consistent effort to get to know them, build relationships and take calculated risks with advice and support from your network. Bakersfield supports its own in a way unlike most other business communities, so always know that Bakersfield has your back!
How do you hope to help improve Bakersfield, or bring to the community overall? I hope to evolve the thinking of and about Bakersfield, by continuing to strive for the best for our community…because we deserve it! Whether it’s win-win business partnerships with established Bakersfield businesses, bringing more/better service/business opportunities to the city/county, or community service/beautification projects, I hope that through my efforts and example, that at least one person will begin to see/treat Bakersfield as the diamond (in the rough) that it is, as opposed to fixating on, lamenting and ultimately perpetuating, the rough.
Social media contact information: @bakosweet (instagram.com/bakosweet)
What is one thing you wish you would have known before starting your career? That mistakes are one of the best ways to learn and grow. We’re taught so many things growing up, except how to make the most out of mistakes. I’ve spent much of my career trying to avoid mistakes, but ironically, the more I’ve made and proactively embraced, the more successful I’ve become.