Blue Diamond hasn’t always made the best decisions, Jansen told growers in December.

In 2004 almond prices shot up 50 cents per pound. “This was devastating to Blue Diamond because we make longer commitments to our customers than other handlers,” he said.

That decision cost the company as it trailed other almond handlers an average of seven cents per pound for its 2004 crop.

Jansen said history began to repeat itself in 2012. In September that year almond prices shot up another 50 cents. “This time our situation was even more difficult as our grocery customers require six months to execute a new price increase,” he said.

Once again, Blue Diamond was looking at lower returns than competing almond handlers. Couple this with serious concerns by Blue Diamond customers over pricing issues and rumors that Blue Diamond was going to be uncompetitive with its decision to build a new processing plant in Turlock, Calif., and Jansen said the organization’s leadership was “losing sleep over the dilemma.”

“I told the team that we cannot afford to take a step backwards, even after two years of very competitive returns,” Jansen said. “A step backwards would lead credence to the naysayers. So in December of that year the leadership began implementing our ‘play-to-win’ strategy. We cut costs and took pricing and found ways to sell more of our most profitable products.”

Extreme volatility in the almond market at the time had Blue Diamond holding its breath that competitors could still time the market right and beat the 100-plus year old cooperative with price and profit.

“When our final returns were reported we were clearly successful,” Jansen said.