April 30, 2005
University of California, Davis grounds manager Sal Genito has found money and talent for olive oil research in his budget. Pruning, fertilizing and going to the dump with the olives from more than 2,000 trees uses up $60,000 a year. Olive skids and slips created from ripe fruit is also a liability hazard considering the many cyclists and pedestrians on campus.
Sal started talking to industry experts about getting rid of the olives in a more constructive manner. Lisa Deane at the Olive Oil Source set him up with more efficient pneumatic harvesters and tanks for storage and decanting. Genito took the olives to Lewis Johnson at Butte View Olive Oil Company for pressing. The oil has been featured at campus events as a fund raiser and there are plans to sell at Dean and DeLuca and Corti Bros markets. A man of many connections, Genito has gotten the graphics department in University Communications to come up with a label and the Graduate School of Management to commit to marketing studies. A preliminary feasibility study predicted $11,375 each year in revenue from the sale of olive oil. The Department of Plant Sciences will use some of the revenues from oil sales to investigate olive waste disposal and other industry problems.
The Grounds Division was able to buy a small olive press to determine optimum picking times before the Pomology department has even gotten one. Sal's enthusiasm for his job and the school is infectious. He has been able to wheedle products and services from many in the industry who are impressed with his entrepreneurism.