TUBAC, AZ -- The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas honored two
industry leaders, one of them posthumously, as Pillars of the Industry during
its 42nd Nogales Produce Convention & Golf Tournament, held Nov. 4-6 at
the Tubac Golf Resort, here.
It is the first year the award has been given, and FPAA President Lance
Jungmeyer said that it is expected that Pillar of the Industry recognitions will
be a "fixture" at future annual Nogales conventions.
Honored posthumously during the closing gala was Roy Lundstrom, who
spent 25 years of his long produce career at GAC Produce prior to his death in
"During his time at GAC, he was a stabilizing force in the market for
tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers," Mr. Jungmeyer said in presenting the
award Nov. 6 at the convention's closing social. "His peers have called
Lundstrom a 'marketing genius."
Mr. Jungmeyer quoted a "longtime Nogales businessman" as saying that Mr.
Lundstrom "individually had more clout on the sales desk than anyone else in
Accepting the award on Mr. Lundstrom's behalf was his son David.
Also recognized as a Pillar of the Industry was Jorge (George) Gotsis Cevallos,
owner of Omega Produce. Mr. Gotsis first began to work for Omega, his
sister's distribution company, in 1951. In time, he became a partner, and in
1961 he began buying the remaining shares.
FPAA Chairman Jaime Chamberlain, who presented the award, called Mr.
Gotsis "a true leader and pioneer in the industry," and noted that he "is
recognized for forging new directions in produce, importing mangos in the
late 1960s and table grapes in the early 1980s." He is looked upon by
Mexican growers as having "a character that is beyond reproach."
The convention was well attended, with more than 430 people at the opening
fiesta and more than 270 at the closing gala -- almost double the number for
the closing event last year, according to the FPAA.
A total of 104 golfers participated in the two-day golf tournament, which was
held both at Tubac and at the Rio Rico Course. Both courses are located just a
few miles north of Nogales, AZ, which is the main port of entry for the
preponderance of the produce grown in mainland West Mexico for import to
the United States.
Tournament prizes were awarded in three flights this year, giving more
participants the opportunity of winning one of the prizes. The first place team
in Flight A was Charlie Calixtro of Calixtro Distributing and Scott Danner of
There was "a big turnout" for the "educational opportunities seminars" on
Thursday, including "a lot of people that I haven't seen before" at previous
seminars, said Allison Moore, communications director for FPAA. Prior to the
seminars, guided warehouse tours gave conference attendees an opportunity
to "see some of the facilities" and learn more about the Nogales produce
industry, she said.
Among the seminar topics were border challenges, which focused mainly on
the construction, currently under way, of new customs facilities at the
Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales. Food safety and traceability also were
covered during the seminars.
The convention gives produce buyers from around the country, distributors in
Nogales, and their suppliers, including growers from Mexico, an opportunity
to network prior to the peak season for shipments of vegetables and tomatoes
from the state of Sinaloa. Production of melons, squash and some other
products out of the more northerly state of Sonora was already in full swing.
"We enjoyed attending the functions and the networking that it brings to
Nogales and the opportunity to see our customers and suppliers," said Brent
Harrison, president of Al Harrison Co. Distributors in Nogales, a sponsor of
Luis Caballero, a partner in Grower Alliance in Nogales, said that it was
helpful to have an opportunity to have conversations with some customers
who were in town and also to talk to "other distributors around to learn about
the situation on different items."
"I think the convention has had a very steady nice steady upward growth over
the last five years," said Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing at Fresh
Farms in Nogales. "I think this was probably one of our most well-attended
functions on Thursday night and one of our better-attended functions on
Saturday night. I think it is very safe to say that the convention is gaining
Moving the convention to an earlier date than in past years has contributed to
that growth, Mr. Havel said. "People want to come out and see what is going
on and see what is we are seeing ourselves up for the coming season."