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Scott Gorczyca puts his best foot forward at Baloian Packing

Scott Gorczyca gets a kick out of just about everything he does, including his new job in sales at Baloian Packing in Fresno, CA.

The former fullback at Arizona State University in Tempe tackles every task with enthusiasm, whether it's promoting the full line of commodities for the grower-shipper-packer he joined this spring or when he would help his father shoe horses as a youngster back in Arizona, where he grew up.

"My dad was and is a horse-shoer. He's mobile. He travels to stables, barns and people's houses," Mr. Gorczyca said. "I learned my basic work ethics from my dad shoeing horses in the Arizona heat, putting your best foot forward every day.

The 29-year-old follows that philosophy at Baloian, where his duties include not just selling the product but dealing directly with everyone from growers to field and dock workers to the customer to ensure that the company provides "the best pack, the best product and the best customer service, he said.

Mr. Gorczyca characterized Baloian Packing as a proactive company with very progressive thinking. "We really put the product and the customer first, and the whole company works together to make that happen. The level of communication at the firm is outstanding, he said. Its products include leaf lettuce, green onions, mixed vegetables, bell peppers, mixed melons, red flat sweet onions, squash, zucchini and beans.

The sales rep came to Baloian from Greer Farms in Phoenix, where he had worked for six years. He acknowledged that he "just sort of fell into a career in the produce industry.

Having begun college with a major in pre-med, he shifted gears after two-and-a-half years and graduated in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in applied sciences and engineering based on agricultural business. "I finished just to finish, he said. "If it hadn't been for football, I might not have finished.

Mr. Gorczyca "walked on the Arizona State football team in his junior year, electing not to play his first two years there. Having played in high school and in a Pop Warner league, the sport was an incentive to complete his academic goals.

After college, he realized that he could put his degree to use at Greer, where a friend was already in the business. Mr. Gorczyca started in the grain mill at the grower-shipper, then joined the sales team and became sales manager in 2001.

He learned that job "under fire, he said, noting that those were some of the more challenging days in his produce career. The payoff -- and some of the more rewarding moments in his professional life -- came when he felt the satisfaction that comes from having a sense of confidence in what he was doing.

"To have confidence in what you are doing enables you to go further, not just in your job but in your life, he said. Describing himself as an "eligible bachelor, Mr. Gorczyca saw an opportunity to relocate to central California when his former employer began selling off some of its land. "I had a good six years with Greer, but I felt like it was time to move on, he said.

Baloian Packing, with 40 full-time payrolled employees and father-and-son team Ed and Tim Baloian as president and chief executive officer respectively, is a good fit, he said.

"They are very adamant about the salesmen getting out in the fields and working with the field guys so we know what we're packing today and what we're packing next week, he said.

Mr. Gorczyca has already visited all of Baloian's California growing areas and hopes to visit growing partners in Mexico and Chile as well. As for customers, they are "from all over the country and Canada. Most are retailers, but we also serve wholesalers and foodservice, he said. He would like to meet as many produce people as possible and cited trade conventions as important venues for accomplishing such ambitions.

His youth can be a tricky factor, Mr. Gorczyca said. "A lot of people are shocked when they find out how young I am, he acknowledged, adding that since he does so much business over the phone, it often isn't until a customer or grower meets him in person that his age becomes obvious.

But, he pointed out, that although he is still under 30, he has been in produce sales for quite a while. "I was lucky enough to figure out what I wanted to be doing fairly young, he said. Once colleagues and clients realize that he knows what he is talking about, acceptance sets in, he said. "It's all about being upfront and honest. The only thing you've got in this world is your word, and if you stand behind that, age doesn't mean anything, he said.

Outside of work, Mr. Gorczyca said that he goes to the gym to work out almost every day and enjoys spending time with family back in Tucson and Phoenix. "I love spending time with my nephews and nieces. I love being with kids -- I'm just a big kid myself.

He does some football scouting for Fresno City College and makes time for short trips with friends to the beach, the mountains and Las Vegas. "I've been lucky more than I haven't been, he said of the desert city, where blackjack is his game. "But Vegas is Vegas; it's just about having a good time.

When he has more time, he indulges his hobby of hunting and has made trips for big game to Alaska, Wyoming, Canada and Mexico. Although he does not eat the meat and utilizes most outfitters' game meat donation outlets for feed-the-hungry programs, he keeps trophies and displays them in his new place in Fresno.

"It's a juggling act, Mr. Gorczyca said of his hectic lifestyle and busy career. "It's very demanding, but that's part of the fun of it too.

As for what the future may hold, the salesman is aiming high. Summing up his philosophy, he said, "Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you are still among the stars. That's my favorite saying.