NOGALES, AZ — Jose Luis Obregon, who recently resigned as managing director of the Hass Avocado Board in Irvine, CA, has joined his brothers, Alvaro Obregon and Enrique Obregon, and his father, Francisco Obregon, at IPR Fresh, a company originally started by Alvaro in 2003. Jose Luis has been brought in as president of the company. Alvaro continues as general manager and Enrique as sales manager. Their father is involved with new business development and sales.
“IPR Fresh is going to the next level,” the senior Mr. Obregon said in an interview with The Produce News in the company’s office, here, Nov. 9, five days before the new president was scheduled to start his new job.
He said, “there are three main ingredients we should mention,” the first being that “Jose Luis is the new president of the company effective Nov. 14. We are all very excited about it, of course, not because he is a member of the family but because of his corporate and institutional experience.”
“We hired him not because he is our brother but because of his experience and his knowledge and what he will be bringing to our company,” added Enrique Obregon. “Alvaro and I, who are owners of the company, will be looking to him as our new boss.”
“Jose Luis has worked in sales in the past,” said Francisco Obregon. “He had a good experience with Mission Produce and Bionova San Diego also,” as well as corporate experience with Semex, a large conglomerate based in Monterey, Mexico. He holds an MBA from the University of Arizona.
A second major development at IPR involves an expansion of greenhouse operations in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico.
“We have a large greenhouse grower in Mexico, and he is going to increase the volume, especially on colored Bell peppers,” said Enrique. “We are also looking at opportunities of bringing different commodities directly from Mexico, such as tomatoes and green Bell peppers, to expand our grower-direct deals from Mexico.”
“So we are importers and distributors and grower-shippers,” said Francisco. “But at the same time, we are consolidators,” which leads to the third development. “We buy locally and sell to our customers to serve their needs with local product that originates from Mexico,” he said. About a month earlier, IPR had begun operating its consolidation service in a new facility, a “very modern distribution center located in the Rio Rico industrial park,” he said.
“Our fleet of refrigerated bobtails picks the product all over town for our customers, and the birddog selects the product before we load it, so we do a preloading inspection. Then we consolidate everything,” he continued.
“It is a one-stop shop for our customers,” said Alvaro Obregon. He stressed the importance of the refrigerated bobtails in order to maintain the cold chain “on products we buy locally here.”
In the coming season, “we will be focusing a lot on customer service, looking at new strategies,” and working on “prompt responses, to be as fast as possible with our order processing and everything else,” said Enrique.
On Nov. 16, The Produce News talked to Jose Luis Obregon by phone about the direction he sees the company taking.
“We are at a time when we really need to look at where we are going and what activities we need to focus on,” he said. “My experience with the [Hass Avocado] Board involved a lot of ... strategic planning,” and that will be “implemented here.” Over the next year, IPR will be “gathering a team and looking at where we want to take the company and what we are going to be focusing on,” he said But with the new season under way, “we are going to take it slow, because the team is completely focused on this season now, and that is going to be crucial for next year’s planning.”
He expects that all of the expertise that he has gained over the years will be “highly valuable here to set the right foundation so we can continue to grow,” he said.