Careers in Poultry with Colton Cuny – AgGrad Live 014

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If you have ever looked through a restaurant menu during Super Bowl season, there is a high possibility that your favorite meat was being served in the shape of a football. Ordering food that comes in a certain shape tends to be a common occurrence, especially during a special event or holiday. The big question is — who actually cuts the meat, specifically poultry, into those shapes?

Thinking outside the box

Colton Cuny is a Junior Sales (http://aggrad.com/5-reasons-you-shoul…) Executive at Gold Creek Foods, a worldwide partner in the protein industry who supplies companies with high-quality products in Gainesville, Georgia. Gold Creek Foods purchases poultry from vertically integrated companies — like Tyson, Sanderson Farms and Pilgrims Pride — and then portions the meat into desired cuts requested by company clients.

“We buy boneless skinless breasts or chicken tenders raw,” Colton said. “Customers that are interested in sizing those products down into certain sizes or shapes or pieces or measurements bring that product here. We source raw materials and cut it down to size. The finished product either goes back to them in their desired format or to an end customer on a project we work on ourselves.”

In his role as a Junior Sales Executive, Colton deals with both the buying and selling sides of the business. His team works to actually purchase the poultry from the vertically integrated companies and then to sell it to other consumers. Colton’s position forces him to think outside of the box on the sales end to gain business in areas the company may not have sold to before.

“A lot of that has to do with finding a customer need,” he said. “We go out and we try to establish what is it that you don’t have and why is it that you don’t have it. And what can we do to alleviate some of that worry? We’re very flexible as a company. We have the ability to turn on a dime and be able to meet people’s needs.”

Gold Creek Foods considers themselves to be experts in portioning and further processing poultry products for customers, making them a key player for restaurants who demand high quality products, like McDonalds or Zaxby’s.

Shaping the career

After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2012, Colton took a job as a night shift debone supervisor in a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Lufkin, Texas. He quickly got promoted to the night shift supervisor before transitioning into sales.

Through a series of advancements over the course of 18 months, Colton landed at the company’s corporate office in Colorado.

“I was 24 years old. I had absolutely no clue what was going on and they decided to hand the keys to one of their 26 domestic plants,” Colton said. “I was in charge of sales for the whole plant. That plant killed about 650,000 birds per week. At the time, that would roughly equate to being responsible for $5 to $6 million a week. It was absolutely intimidating out of the gate. It was something I definitely didn’t think I would be thrown in right away. It was a humongous learning experience.”

Colton credits much of his success thus far to being willing to say “yes” to opportunities.

“If I can emphasize anything to you it’s this — there are not enough times that you can say “yes” early in your career,” he said. “There are so many people who aren’t your age who don’t want to do those things anymore. Those are the opportunities for you to step in and take charge of situations. You would be viewed as a valuable asset if you actually did it.”

Evolving with the job

Taking a new job or starting your first job can be intimidating. Here are three tips Colton has for employees in their first six months on the job.

1. Listen, don’t talk — In Colton’s opinion, you cannot be learning something if your month is open. Listen to what’s going on around you and you will learn a whole lot more in that short amount of time than what you think.

2. Be a sponge — Be that “yes” guy. Do everything that you’re asked in order to learn as much as you can.

3. Don’t let “that’s the way it’s always been” be good enough for you — Question when people say, “That’s the way it’s always been.” If you have something that could make the company more efficient or make more money, it is your prerogative to question the process.

To reach out to Colton, send him an email at colton.cuny@goldcreekfoods.com.

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Tim Hammerich
tim@aggrad.com

Tim helps agricultural companies find talented employees. Originally from California, he is now based out of Austin, TX. Before launching AgGrad in 2015, Tim’s background was in management, sales, marketing, commodity trading, merchandising, risk management, logistics, public speaking, group facilitation, and grain operations. His goal is to take the traditional college career fair experience and replicate it online so that jobseekers can learn about opportunities, interact and receive feedback, and connect with employers in the agriculture industry.

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