Sergio Chamberlain, formerly chief executive officer and sales manager of Meyer LLC in Nogales, AZ, left Meyer Sept. 22 after nearly eight years with the company to start his own produce business. It was something he said he has dreamed of doing since he got his first job as an on-ground buyer for a small company 20 years ago.
Mr. Chamberlain's new company, called SCC Fresh LLC, is located in a facility on Old Tucson Road in Nogales that was formerly occupied by Greenpoint Distributing LLC. The facility includes offices and a warehouse area with what Mr. Chamberlain described as a "very nice, very adequate cold storage room." Greenpoint has relocated to the Rio Rico Industrial Park.
Meyer has hired Jesse Driskill, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas and previously general manager of Meyer, to step into the position vacated by Mr. Chamberlain, effective Nov. 16.
SCC Fresh will be primarily a distributor and shipper, handling "a full line of commodities year round," Mr. Chamberlain said. He already has some growers in Mexico lined up that he will be representing, and he expects to add more in the near future.
"I will be doing some outside buying as well," he said. "I plan on starting with some items out of northern Sinaloa in November" and then SCC will get into additional items, primarily tomatoes and vegetables, from Sinaloa in December, January and February, he said. He will also be "doing some mangos" and other tropical fruit items "from the southern part of Mexico."
SCC Fresh will be "a very diversified operation," he said. "I am going to handle squashes, cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, round tomatoes, just about everything. I intend to have at least a million-and-a-half to 2 million boxes this year."
He added that he hopes to expand that to more than 4 million boxes over the next two to three years.
Initially, products will be packed in grower labels. "I think every grower should be recognized for their products," he said.
Mr. Chamberlain started his produce career in 1989 doing on-ground buying and inspection. In 1990, he went to work for Skokie, IL-based Topco Associates LLC as an inspector and buyer of cantaloupe and other melons in California and Nogales. "I worked for them for about three years," buying for various chainstores, he said.
In 1994, Mr. Chamberlain began a six-year stint with Farmer's Best in Nogales, starting in sales and becoming export sales manager. He then spent one year with Chamberlain Distributing in Nogales before becoming a salesman for Bionova Produce in Nogales, where he handled "diversified commodities, a full line of vegetables." He worked for Bionova for three years before joining Meyer-Pacific on the sales desk.
When Meyer-Pacific became Meyer LLC, he said, "I became sales manager, then general manager, and eventually CEO."
Having his own company has long been "a goal of mine," Mr. Chamberlain said. "With the experience and the background that I have, I decided it was time. I've got good grower relations, and I've also got good customer relations as well," which will help in being able to communicate with the farmers and then communicate accurate information from them "back to the customers."