Ryan Scagliotti, Agriculture Business
Ryan Scagliotti, Agriculture Business
In his own words, “a promise and a handshake” launched senior agricultural business major and natural entrepreneur Ryan Scagliotti into a successful side business while being a full-time student. Scagliotti and his fiancée, fellow agricultural business major Karen Flickenger, own R&K Gourmet Kettle Corn, which they started in early 2013 after Scagliotti gained experience managing and operating Dale’s Gourmet Kettle Popcorn for three years.
Scagliotti attended Modesto Junior College where he frequently helped Flickenger sell eggs from the Modesto Junior College’s West Campus farm at local farmers’ markets. He began to build a connection and relationship with the owner of Dale’s Gourmet Kettle Popcorn. When Dale’s offered to supply Scagliotti with a set up for an additional kettle-corn booth under the Dale’s Gourmet Kettle Popcorn name, the story of R&K Gourmet Kettle Corn was in the making. Now, R&K Gourmet Kettle Corn can be spotted regularly on campus helping CSU, Chico clubs raise money. The new business has also already been a part of the Fourth of July biker’s rally in Hollister and local farmers’ markets. They plan to expand to other venues upon graduating.
“Starting a business and running a business in college was probably my greatest learning experience I’ve had at this point in my life,” Scagliotti said. As owner of R&K Gourmet Kettle Corn, Scagliotti is responsible for all tasks pertaining to his company. He cold-calls potential venues, secures necessary permits under time crunches, trains and manages temporary employees, takes inventories, keeps a constant flow of goods, and analyzes potential customer demands.
Before moving to Modesto to attend Modesto Junior College, Scagliotti graduated from San Benito High School in Hollister, California. He was active in the FFA organization and found a passion for leadership and personal development. Scagliotti served as a sectional treasurer for the Santa Clara FFA and showed market swine at the San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Monterey County Fairs.
“FFA gave me a path, a direction,” Scagliotti said. “It gave me the motivation to push myself in everything that I did and gave me a strong work ethic. Being involved with the FFA in high school gave me a place of belonging, and I feel now the same way about the agriculture industry.”
Coming from the small town of Hollister, Scagliotti found himself enjoying the community-like atmosphere of Modesto Junior College but not so much the big city. When he completed his two years at MJC and was considering where to transfer, California State University, Chico possessed all the right qualities. Scagliotti instantly fell in love with the ambiance of the town and sense of home in the College of Agriculture and knew that CSU, Chico was where he wanted to finish his degree.
“I love that it’s a small college because it gives students the chance to get to know the majority of their peers and to get to know the teachers,” Scagliotti said. “I also love that all of our professors are true experts in their fields and have real life experiences to relate back to their lessons. It brings the classrooms to life.”
Now completing his last semester at Chico State, Scagliotti is active within the College of Agriculture. He is the 2013–2014 president of the Society of Agriculture Managers’ (SAM), a club designed to help agricultural business majors build networking skills and professional presence and provide opportunities for personal growth. Scagliotti was a member of the club his first year at CSU, Chico and decided that during his senior year he wanted to have an active role mentoring and serving other students within the major just as others had done for him.
He is the first CSU, Chico student to serve as an officer in the student section of the national Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). His election to secretary-treasurer for the 2013–2014 year took place at the AAEA annual meeting in Chicago last July where Scagliotti and a team from Chico State competed in the Academic Quiz Bowl. The AAEA officer team is responsible for facilitating the 2014 conference, which consists of a social event, a writing competition, the Academic Quiz Bowl, and a business meeting where they elect new officers. Scagliotti’s other responsibilities as an officer have consisted of writing newsletters, reviewing member concerns, making changes to the association based on those concerns, and promoting the student section to create involvement in the annual Academic Quiz Bowl.
In addition to his own business, Scagliotti has gained various work experiences. He sells advertising as an account executive for The Orion, the University’s student newspaper. He also serves as a research assistant to Dr. Jake Brimlow, performing cost analysis on stationary agriculture diesel machinery for the California Air Resource Board. In the summer of 2013, Scagliotti worked as a summer sales representative with iFresh Sales and Market Development Inc. in Granite Bay, California, selling fresh produce on behalf of grower-shippers and fresh-cut processors.
Brimlow believes that Scagliotti is going to be a great asset to the agriculture industry. “Ryan possesses a powerful combination of experience, intelligence, determination, and creativity that allows him to contribute to a breadth of projects in a variety of contexts,” Brimlow said. “His work on an economic analysis of orchard solar applications with myself and Dr. Greg Kallio from the College of Engineering is just one of many examples.”
Scagliotti has accepted a post-graduation position with Foster Farms at their Livingston operation, where he will be a live production management trainee for nine months to a year. After that, he will become a live production supervisor. Scagliotti will be responsible for monitoring 2 million broiler birds. He will travel from farm to farm and monitor them to be sure they are receiving the right amount of food and water and are content in their environment. Down the road, Scagliotti hopes to continue working for Foster Farms while pursuing an MBA. He also hopes to continue to expand R&K Gourmet Kettle Corn as a side business at farmers’ markets, county fairs, and other venues.