Dolly Fiddyment '52 (Education), Tom Dille '69 (Business Administration), Diane Fiddyment '79 (History) & Dianne Wood '98 (Business Administration)
Hornets keep farm buzzing
Pistachios grow in grape-like clusters, thrive in warm, dry climates and have a distinct green color that makes them stand out.
For local pistachio producer Fiddyment Farms, the same can be said for their enclave of present and future Hornets. The family-owned company features a healthy cluster of Sac State products—grandmother, grandson and a pair of “extended family”—once green (and gold) clad students, who are flourishing in the capital city’s summery environment.
Dolly Fiddyment, the senior Sac State alum in the company, put her degree to work as a schoolteacher in the San Juan School District for 23 years. But back in the mid-60s, she had the intriguing choice of determining which crop to grow at Fiddyment Farms.
“The family historically was in the turkey, sheep and cattle business,” she says. “There were two new crops in California (pistachios and kiwis) and we wanted to put one of them in. I chose pistachios.”
They planted their first trees in Roseville in 1965. Forty years later the company moved its headquarters to Lincoln where—though the nuts are now grown in Bakersfield—the processing plant produces between 2 and 3 million pounds of pistachios each year, about 250,000 pounds of which are sold under the Fiddyment Farms label.
The company focuses on freshness and character, selling its pistachios at farmers’ markets, specialty stores and now at Whole Foods markets in the region.
“We concentrate on quality products,” says general manager Tom Dille. “There are a lot of pistachios out there, but ours are cleaner, neater and tastier. We still roast them the same way we always have—in small batches. Our goal is not to stay small, but to stay quality-oriented and stay special. We offer something a little better, a little different.”
Dille, who joined the company in 1996, was the College of Business Administration’s Alum of the Year in 1986. He also worked with the campus to get Fiddyment Farms involved with the College’s Corporate Associates program, which links the University to area businesses.
Business manager Dianne Wood is also a Hornet. “I had significant business experience prior to attending Sac State,” Wood says. “But studying different aspects of business contributed to a well-rounded understanding of the field in general and the emphasis on finance at Sac State helps a great deal with what I’m doing now.”
Dolly Fiddyment’s grandson Bryan Barrett is the latest to continue the family and company ties to the campus. He is in charge of warehouse safety, among other responsibilities, at Fiddyment Farms and will join Sac State as a business administration major this fall.
“I work with general manager, the sales manager and the office manager and try to get things to run as smooth as possible,” Barrett explains.
There’s another Hornet in the family—Dolly’s daughter Diane Fiddyment—but not in the family business. Diane is a successful business owner in the Bay Area, as well as a member of the National Leadership Council for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Dolly says it’s been an adventure helping usher the company founded by her husband’s family into the 21st century.
“It’s been fun watching Fiddyment Farms develop,” says Dolly, whose husband David is a UC Davis grad.
“It’s been a fun ride for years and now we’re seeing it really grow.”
This article was originally published in the Fall 2012 edition of Sac State Magazine.