Salinas marketing firm celebrates 20th anniversary

The produce industry is loaded with sons following their father’s footsteps and making a career in the industry. While Nick Pasculli’s path has some familial elements, as he celebrates the 20th anniversary of his Salinas, CA-based produce marketing firm, TMD Creative, and his 30th year in the business, his journey has been a unique one.PressRelease-04-17Nick Pasculli, owner of TMD Creative, an international marketing and design firm, was awarded the Ag Tech Innovator Award at the 2017 Salinas Valley Ag Tech Summit.

Pasculli was born in Hoboken, NJ, but moved around a bit in his first two decades of life, as his father, Morris, had several different ag jobs. The elder Pasculli worked for a produce refrigeration firm in New Jersey, a nut processor in Georgia, and a vegetable processor in both California and Michigan. Nick Pasculli graduated from high school in Michigan and started his college career there before transferring to California State University at Fresno, following the family back out West.

After graduating from Fresno State in 1985, he went back to New York and New Jersey to start his work career. He first worked for the American Red Cross and then secured a job with a bank calling on farmers in the northern part of the state. He liked the work, but in 1989 he moved back to California, settling in Salinas where his father was now working for Markon — a position he kept until his retirement a few years ago.

With banking experience, the younger Pasculli joined the Bank of Salinas, again working with many ag accounts as a loan officer. It was from this position that Dave Eldredge, then a vice president at Tanimura & Antle, recruited Pasculli to join T&A’s team. Pasculli was ecstatic as he was keenly interested in pursuing a career directly involved with agriculture rather than one on the periphery.

“T&A trained me right,” he recalled. “First, I spent a couple of weeks in Yuma working in the fields, and then I spent almost a full year on the sales desk.”

He eventually moved into the marketing department, spending three years with the organization.

Pasculli’s next move was to Naturipe where he served as vice president of marketing and business development. He is quite proud of his four-year tenure there and some of the projects he developed, including the value-added strawberry SKU – “Berry Dippers.”

He also was involved in rebranding the company, developing its export program and launching its first blueberry deal.

In 1998, Pasculli joined D’Arrigo Bros. of California. Though he was only with the firm for one year, he called it his most consequential career stop. There, he was deeply involved in what he said was the industry’s first “cause marketing” effort as D’Arrigo worked with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to include a pink ribbon on its cartons and a donation for every box sold. To date, that effort has resulted in a $2 million donation to the foundation.

On Oct. 1, 1999, Pasculli launched The Marketing Department (now known as TMD Creative) as a one-man show allowing produce companies to outsource their chief marketing officer work. His first client was FoodSource and soon he had many others. He is very proud of the fact that every company he worked for in his first decade in Salinas has been a client of TMD Creative at one time or another.

After six months on the job, he hired his mother to handle the office and his billing. She remained on the job until his father retired and the couple moved to Oregon several years ago. For the last 20 years, growth has been constant, except for a period during the recession that took hold in 2008. Pasculli said that by choice he wanted moderate growth, which he has achieved, adding clients and employees in a controlled fashion. The company has largely followed the blueprint that Pasculli devised in 1999.

Though TMD Creative does operate as an ad agency for many of its clients, Pasculli does not like that definition for his firm. “We are a full-service marketing company offering creative and strategic marketing for our clients. For at least 60 percent of them we are involved on a strategic level.”

Over the years, the firm has diversified and added non-agricultural accounts, and has also opened an office in San Diego.

Four years ago, Pasculli launched TMD Technology Solutions as the firm’s ag tech business. That company is involved in software development and high-end date integration. It has developed some proprietary software and currently has six clients utilizing its powerful, cloud-based data platform with four more in development stage.

“I feel very, very blessed,” he said. “We’ve had 20 great years. There have been some tough days, weeks and months but we’ve done very well and have maintained at least 95 percent of the relationships we have formed over the years. I have deep, deep ties to the ag industry… and I love it.”

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