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Fall 2009 - Delivers

Destination Purdue > Fall 2009 - Delivers

Destination Career is a series profiling recent Purdue Agriculture graduates.
For more alumni stories, visit our Destination Career archive.

Graduate delivers fresh fruit and laughs

By Jill Steiner

Josh Merrill

Photo provided by Josh Merrill

Josh Merrill, a 2001 quantitative agricultural economics graduate, may be dressed as a hip banana to keep his office fun, but his job is a lot more than playing around. As a logistics analyst, he directs shipments of Chiquita products as they move throughout the country.

Josh Merrill is a strategic analyst who doesn't have a typical day.

He evaluates North American shipping and other functions for Chiquita Brands International in Cincinnati. Today he may be ensuring fresh fruits and vegetables make it to supermarkets throughout the United States. Tomorrow he may be helping launch a new healthy snack product. Strategic analysis and change management within the company is at the core of what he does.

"My job deals with anything that moves in North America for Chiquita," said Merrill, who earned a Purdue Agriculture bachelor's degree in quantitative agricultural economics in 2001. Merrill manages a team that ensures that produce from the United States and Central and South America makes it to grocery shelves in North America at the best prices and with the highest quality.

"Imagine harvesting romaine lettuce in Calinas Valley, Calif., trucking it across the country to Harrisburg, Pa., and then washing it, cutting it and bagging it. Then the bagged lettuce is shipped to your local store's distribution center in Portland, Maine, all within four days," said Merrill.

Merrill has also been involved in developing and launching new healthy snack products for Chiquita such as Chiquita Bites apple slices and Chiquita-To-Go banana slices. He had to figure out how to get the product to outlets like convenience stores and gas stations quickly and affordably. Even good ideas can die if it costs too much to get a new product into stores.

"It's kind of cool to see a product come to reality and sitting on the shelf in stores," said Merrill.

Merrill said the work he does every day can be hard, but it's worth it. "I absolutely love my job and work with great people. Every day is a new challenge, and I know my team is able to make a difference in how my company delivers our products to the consumers."

Someday Merrill woudl like to work with developing countries to help them improve their supply chians. "I want to be the best supply chain guy in the world."

Supply chains keep the goods coming
By Jill Steiner

Supply chain analysts need to understand the entire company, not just a certain part of a business, according to Frank J. Dooley, a Purdue agricultural economics professor.

A supply chain involves a business' three key flows - cash, product and information - and aims to keep everything moving efficiently. Josh Merrill, a 2001 agricultural economics graduate, works primarily with product flow for Chiquita Brands International. Merilll monitors inventory levels and ensures that products come in efficiently. His outgoing products must arrive at the right place at the right time in the right amount.

Transporting and locating products is a major emphasis of supply chain management. Smart companies invest millions in people, processes and technology to deliver products at a low cost.

Performing complex logistical analyses every day might sound like a boring job, but Merrill finds ways to inject fun into what he does. His coworkers particularly like how he's not afraid to dress up in a banana suit at the office. "He has a unique personality and is not your everyday upper-level management person," said Rob McNamee, a senior logistics analyst at Chiquita.

But for Merrill, the fun has a real purpose. By keeping the mood friendly and light, Merrill and his coworkers enjoy their work and keep the stress from getting to them. "A guy in a cubicle isn't very exciting, but a guy in a banana suit is fun," Merrill said. "You can't take your job too seriously when it's all about a work-hard, play-hard environment."

Find out more:

Chiquita International
Purdue Agricultural Economics