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Nick Chappell follows passion for produce

Nick Chappell didn't just stumble into fresh produce -- he made a beeline for it.

Now a fruit salesman with Watsonville, CA-based California Giant, Mr. Chappell, 23, is the nephew of Cal Giant partner Bill Moncovich. But while that connection might help explain his employment, it does not explain his passion.

"As a kid, I said I wanted to follow in Bill's [Moncovich] footsteps," Mr. Chappell said. "I have a passion for it -- every day is a little different."

The Watsonville native did an internship for one semester at Cal Giant when he was 18, handling various duties around the office. The fit was a good one.

"They liked me and I liked them," Mr. Chappell said.

A 2000 graduate from Aptos High School, Mr. Chappell attended Cabrillo College in Aptos, a public community college. He continued at Butte College in Oroville, CA, but his heart was into getting a career going in produce. So he linked up with Cal Giant about a year ago. He services customers in wholesale, retail and foodservice.

"A lot of [sales] is holding onto old accounts and occasionally finding new ones," Mr. Chappell said. Much of the work is service, and he likes taking special care of his customers' needs, he said.

But Mr. Chappell is not only about fresh produce -- he is an outdoorsman at heart. During the winter, he likes to go duck hunting around Chico, CA, and snowboarding around Lake Tahoe.

When he is not pushing produce, he is riding motocross -- both on trails and on dirt tracks -- or playing golf or wakeboarding in Shasta, CA. He also likes to enjoy the Californian beach in nearby Rio del Mar and "likes to barbecue a lot during the summer."

Moving back indoors, Mr. Chappell loves rock 'n roll and often attends shows and concerts in Santa Cruz, including a recent concert of the popular group Pennywise.

The single Mr. Chappell said that with all in which he is involved, he does not have time for a steady girlfriend. Mr. Chappell said that five or 10 years out, he hopes to still be growing in a career with Cal Giant.

Though Mr. Moncovich is a distinct link to Cal Giant for Mr. Chappell, his early strawberry connections do not end there. In years past, his mother, Mary, served on the board of directors of the California Strawberry Commission. The produce connection does not extend beyond that in his immediate family, however. His father, Ken, is an accountant and neither of his sisters -- Alison and Kristen -- is involved in the fresh produce industry.