I attended Fresno State University and received my B.S. degree in Agronomy (study of field and row crops). Upon graduation I went to work for P and R farms in Clovis as a field supervisor, but soon realized I liked the business side of produce rather than the growing side. I then went to work for Pacific Gamble Robinson Co. (Pacific Fruit) in Kingsburg, in February 1984 as the vegetable buyer and then as their grape buyer. In April of 1989 Ted Torosian, Bob Hamada and myself decided to form Custom Produce Sales. I truly have a passion for the produce industry and the people I have the opportunity to meet.
After growing up on a farm with cattle, alfalfa fields, and vineyards, I started my produce career in the spring of 1985 as a sales assistant at United Packing in Sanger, CA. Later that fall I became a buyer for Pacific Fruit & Produce, Kingsburg, CA for 3 1/2 years. It was then that Marvin Farris, Bob Hamada, and I formed Custom Produce Sales in 1989. I graduated from Sanger High in 1977 and Fresno State in 1981. I played professional football for three years in Buffalo, NY and Oakland, CA.
I grew up on a family farm, and started working at 8 years old, growing, packing, shipping and selling our family and grower product. I managed a tree fruit/specialty vegetable packing and cold storage facility in High School and College. My first experience in consolidating was with a full line of ethnic/specialty produce and live herbs from Los Angeles in the 70’s. My first sales experience was at 16 years old selling my family and outside grower production. I graduated with an AS in Ag from Reedley College ’74 and with a BS in Plant Science from Fresno State in ‘76. I worked for Pacific Gamble Robinson Co. (Pacific Fruit) for three years as the tree fruit specialist prior to becoming one of the originating principals of Custom Produce Sales in 1989.
My career in the produce industry began in 1979 at Pacific Fruit and Produce and in 1981 I took over citrus procurement. I was with the Sam Perricone Company for a short period before I came on board with Custom Produce in February of 1989 to head the citrus department. My expertise has been in the Citrus industry for the past 25 years, and I am one of five principals of Custom Produce Sales.
I was given the opportunity to work for Custom Produce Sales in 1997. I am in charge of all the vegetable sales, which include bell pepper, squash, cucumber, eggplant, chili pepper, and hard squash. I have been involved in agriculture for many years working with my father in our vineyards and orchards in the San Joaquin Valley. This has given me a better understanding of cultural practices and how to get the best quality to the market. After graduating from high school in 1989, I attended and graduated California State University, Fresno, majoring in Ag Business, with a minor in Viticulture. After graduating college I worked with Kroger/Wesco Foods as a buyer/ quality control in Phoenix, Nogales and Yuma Arizona. It was then that my product knowledge was greatly expanded as I was dealing with leaf items, broccoli, onions, melons, and all Nogales Vegetables.
I came to work for Custom Produce Sales In the spring of 1999. Being hired as Quality Control, I quickly learned a great deal about every commodity that we deal with today. After nearly 2 years I was given the opportunity to take over the Transportation Department, which I worked with great conviction for the next 2 years, the later of which was a combination of Transportation, Purchasing and Sales. In 2003 I focused on Purchasing and Sales while maintaining a small role in the Transportation Department. While this has not changed much since, I am in charge of purchasing Watermelon and Avocado.
My produce career started in the fall of 1995 working Quality Assurance for Manny Lawrence Sales. I inspecting vegetables from the Salinas and Imperial Valley. In the summer of 1999 I decided to stay in the Salinas Valley year round and join Sysco Foodservice. I worked as a Merchandiser for seven years buying everything from broccoli to strawberries. This is when I was first introduced to Custom Produce. I decided to move on and part ways with Sysco as well as the Salinas Valley and moved my family to the San Joaquin Valley. I accepted a sales job with Crown Jewels in May of 2006. At Crown Jewels I sold a variety of items which included California apples, pears, navels, strawberries, and Nogales vegetables as well as doing the majority of the outside buying. During my career I have become well rounded in all aspects of the produce industry.