Better Yields Through Science

Ruz Shokrollahi is Pursuing His Passion at ORCAL Inc

By Larry Aylward, Meister Media

Ruz Shokrollahi likes to talk, but not in a dominating-the-dinner-conversation kind of way. Shokrollahi just likes talking and listening to people to get to know them, which is why he counts friends from all walks of life.

“I’m a people person. I like meeting people and making contacts,” Shokrollahi says. “It’s just part of my personality.”

Ruz’s personality is one of the reasons he is an ideal fit as the new Territory Sales Manager for ORCAL in a region of the country where the Junction City, OR based company wants to expand its crop protection products. Last August, Shokrollahi packed up and moved from southern California, where he has spent almost his entire life, to Mount Juliet, Tennessee. You could say he traded in his surfboard for a pair of cowboy boots. Shokrollahi’s territory includes large parts of the Midwest and South, from Texas to Michigan.

“The need for our products is here,” he says of the region.

And the need for someone to inform the agricultural professionals in the area about how ORCAL’s products can help solve their challenges falls to Shokrollahi, who welcomes it. It means he gets to put his people skills to work.

Embracing His Role

An adventurous type, Shokrollahi welcomed the move to the other side of the country, which he says provides him a chance to visit parts of the U.S. he has never seen. Born in Iran, Ruz moved to California with his family in 1986 at the age of 3. He grew up in Southern California and attended California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture crop science with a minor in pest management.

After graduation, Shokrollahi became a Pest Control Advisor (PCA) and worked on a farm in Bakersfield, California, where he managed about 20,000 acres of pistachios and almonds. He then managed sales territories for an irrigation technology company and an agriculture sensor company.

Ruz knew several people at ORCAL before joining the company, including ORCAL’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tim Wasko. He witnessed ORCAL’s positive culture, where he says employees don’t view their successes as their own but as wins for the entire company. Shokrollahi says “the stars aligned” for him to get the chance to join ORCAL.

“Almost everybody who works at ORCAL has been there a long time, which speaks volumes about the company,” he says. “Everybody is like-minded. It’s easy to fit in because everybody is so down to Earth.”

After getting settled in his new surroundings, Ruz began contacting hundreds of crop consultants throughout his territory to inform them about ORCAL’s products. He has also spoken to university researchers and distributors to set up trials for products. Shokrollahi realizes the credibility that solid research can bring to ORCAL’s offerings.

Shokrollahi has already set up trials for SLUG-FEST® with the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee. SLUG-FEST, which contains 25% Metaldehyde, is the only liquid sprayable slug and snail control product in agriculture. Shokrollahi believes that due to the special, local need in the area, SLUG-FEST can help to protect the 90 million acres of soybeans in his territory. “When those plants are young, snails and slugs can just decimate them,” he says.

Other products Shokrollahi plans to trial are ORCAL’s solar protectants, including OASIS®, MASK®, and Diffusion and LIME SULFUR ULTRA®, an organic fungicide/miticide/insecticide. Ruz believes the solar protectants will help farmers in the driest parts of his territory – consider a parched and sweltering Oklahoma in July – with water and stress management. He says growers may also benefit from using LIME SULFUR ULTRA for invasive pests such as kudzu bugs and possibly the spotted lanternflies.

Shokrollahi is confident the trials will go well because he believes ORCAL’s products are the result of thorough research and development led by the company’s Founder and President George Baker. “We call him a genius because he’s always coming up with the latest and greatest formulations,” Shokrollahi says of Baker. “George sees the world differently than most and that allows him to consistently invent and modify and formulate in ways most other companies only dream of. And his dedication to research trials is second to none. He will get up at 3 am to collect slugs and snails, and the efficacy of our products reflect both his knowledge and his devotion,” says Ruz.

“Learn by Doing”

After spending his entire working life in California working with permanent crops like nut trees, Shokrollahi is now dealing mostly with row crops like corn, soybeans, and cotton. He knows he needs to continue to learn about row crops and what they require throughout his territory to flourish. But he has embraced the challenge.

“I’ve always had a passion for plants and agriculture,” Shokrollahi says, noting that at Cal Poly he was taught to “learn by doing.”

There’s another motivation for Shokrollahi in his role: He just wants to help farmers. He realizes how hard they work and the demands they face. So, he’s thankful to be in a profession where he can help them.

“I don’t look at what I do as work as much as I look at it as pursuing a passion,” he says.