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Ted Kaplan’s daughter ‘learning the business’ at Professional Produce

LOS ANGELES — “I’ve got my daughter here. She just graduated college and is going to grad school, “ said Ted Kaplan, president of Professional Produce, here. Sydney Kaplan graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA, and is working at Professional for the summer. “She is learning the business before she goes to grad school,” doing “a little bit of everything.”

It is “a job,” he said. “And that is different for kids these days.” Many of them “don’t quite get it. It’s a job. And it is not a job that starts at 8 or 9 in the morning. It starts at 6.” Every day, “she is here early. There are no days off.”

Ms. Kaplan will be entering amaster of business administration degree program at Chapman this fall.

Mr. Kaplan lamented, “It is no longer about produce. It is about numbers. We have to learn to deal with that.” Having a technical knowledge about produce varieties, for example, “is irrelevant. They are just crunching numbers. There is very little personalized business left in the produce industry.”

Mr. Kaplan, who has been working in the produce business since about the age of 12, started Professional Produce in 1995 as a small company. Seven years ago, Professional relocated to a new 48,000-square-foot warehouse, distribution and office facility here. The company is a diversified produce shipper, distributor and repacker and is also involved in the farming side of the business through partnerships with several growers.