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People, week of November 14, 2011

Gil Munguia

The Giumarra Cos. announced Nov. 2 that GIL MUNGUIA has been hired as the new head of the company’s Nogales, AZ, division.

Additionally, CESAR PACHECO, a 22-year veteran of the industry, was promoted to sales manager for the division.

Mr. Munguia has held positions with L&M Cos. and Certified Pack, a start-up division of Premium Produce, which pioneered the ozone-enriched AgriWash system.

“We’d like to welcome the addition of Gil Munguia to our team,” John Corsaro, executive vice president of the Giumarra Cos., said in a Nov. 2 press release. “Gil brings experience in the value-added aspect of the business that we’d like to continue growing in our Nogales division. He will also help us put a stronger emphasis on foodservice.”

Cesar Pacheco

Mr. Munguia, who earned a degree in agriculture and business from the University of Arizona, will be responsible for managing the division, including operations and support.

Mr. Pacheco has worked in the Giumarra Nogales sales office for 15 years. His new responsibilities will include managing the sales team and growing the division’s customer base.

“Cesar will take hold of national accounts. We are excited to see what he will bring to his new position,” Mr. Corsaro added in the press release.

Giumarra Nogales was established in 1971 to centralize Giumarra’s marketing efforts in Mexico. The division imports winter and spring fruits and vegetables that are grown and packed by some of Mexico’s leading farming operations.


Effective Oct. 28, JED MURRAY has been promoted to vice president of operations with Val Verde Vegetable Co. Inc. in McAllen, TX. He has been with the company for three years and previously held the role of cabbage harvest manager, according to an Oct. 28 press release.

Mr. Murray has more than 12 years of experience in the produce industry in the areas of marketing, production and operations. In the past, he worked in various positions at Tanimura & Antle, where he helped launch new products, opened new growing areas, expanded acreage, implemented food-safety programs and managed production protocols that grew business.

In this newly created position, Mr. Murray will play a key role in further developing Val Verde’s production plans by expanding acreage, adding new products and implementing new production protocols. To date, Mr. Murray has built long-range and short-term product-forecasting models, improved pack specifications and enhanced Val Verde’s food-safety program.

“As our business has grown, particularly our production volume, we found it necessary to expand management responsibilities and add a position that focused on a holistic view of all operations,” Frank Schuster, president of Val Verde, said in the press release. Mr. Schuster continued by saying, “Val Verde has always been focused on quality, but Jed’s experience with larger organizations gives him a broad point of view on how to facilitate programming between production and sales, and bring increased value to the business.”

“I have a lot of respect for Frank’s integrity and his continued commitment to growing and maintaining a family business,” Mr. Murray said in the press release. “Val Verde has always been a business focused on quality, and I’m pleased that I can use my skills to help them add new tools and resources that will grow the business for the next generation.”

When he is not working, Mr. Murray spends time with his family and volunteers at his church, where he maintains a large community garden that has generated over $5,000 in profits that have been distributed to nonprofit organizations and those in need throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Val Verde Vegetable Co. Inc. is a third-generation family farm and grower-shipper-marketer of products from south Texas and Mexico with a specialty in leafy greens and cabbage.


Joe Miskimins

The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, announced Nov. 2 that it has promoted JOE MISKIMINS to vice president of produce and floral, a position most recently held by Reggie Griffin, who retired last month.

Mr. Miskimins, who will lead the company’s vision and strategy for the produce and floral departments, including sales and merchandising, began his career with Kroger in 1980 in the Cincinnati-Dayton division. He held a number of leadership positions with the company, including store and district management; produce merchandising, district manager in the Fry’s division; area manager and produce merchandiser for Kroger’s Central division; and floral director at Kroger’s general office in Cincinnati. He was named vice president of merchandising for QFC in 2009.

“Joe is a strong leader who is passionate about delivering the best products and services to our customers, and he has the expertise to deliver,” Jeff Burt, group vice president of perishables, said in a Nov. 2 statement announcing the promotion of Mr. Miskimins. “We’re excited that Joe will lead our produce and floral team and look forward to his contributions.”


Jim Reed

In his 43rd season in the produce industry, JIM REED has become general manager of the citrus division at King Fresh Produce in Dinuba, CA.

He started as a field man in a small Sunkist co-op in 1969. Since then, he has owned packinghouses, started them for other people, and planted groves, as well as owned and operated juice plants. He said that he was a partner with and worked for “the citrus icon Sam Perricone for 25-30 years. There’s really nothing I haven’t done aside from sell at a retail level. Growing, packing, marketing, distributing, trucking — I have vast experience in all that.”

King Fresh, primarily a grape shipper, acquired Jody Fresh in part for its cold-storage capability, but the company also had a full pack line.

At the time of the purchase, Mr. Reed helped Keith Wilson, the owner of King Fresh, to evaluate the machinery and opportunities. He saw an opportunity to develop a citrus line, and in 2010, the company did some custom packing for other shippers. But this year the company started its own citrus division, which handles packing and marketing.

Mr. Reed is a Lions Club member and an active volunteer for the community outreach performed by the First Baptist Church Three Rivers. He loves to waterski but said that he spends most of his time with his grandchildren, who keep him “pretty swamped with very good things.”


In July, RONALD J. WILKOWSKI SR. became the vice president of domestic sales and marketing for United Apple Sales, a year-round supplier and packer of apples from New York and Washington state. The company also handles imported cherries and apples.

Mr. Wilkowski previously worked at Oppenheimer in Newark, DE, for four years as a senior salesperson. He also worked for three years in the field buying office for Supervalu Inc. in Lakeland, FL.

His 30-year career in the produce industry began at Tops Markets in the Buffalo area back in 1981, so Mr. Wilkowski said that the opportunity to take the job with Lyndonville, NY-based United Apple Sales “is a homecoming of sorts. I left the Buffalo area seven years ago to expand my produce career, and this opportunity gave me and my wife, Michelle, a chance to move back to Buffalo and spend more time with our sons, Ron Jr., Josh, Adam and Michael, who all live in the Buffalo area.”

Mr. Wilkowski currently lives in Cheektowaga, NY, with his wife. He said that in his free time, he enjoys bow and gun hunting for whitetail deer, bowling, making wine, “and you may occasionally find me in the kitchen making Buffalo chicken wings and my soon-to-be-famous Buffalo chicken wing soup.”


DOUG WEIKERT, a 32-year veteran of the produce industry, has joined the Minneapolis-based Twin City Produce sales staff. Currently, his responsibilities include taking orders from customers, buying specific commodities, submitting purchase orders and handling the routing for deliveries.

Mr. Weikert had been working in the company’s warehouse for the past five years, but was transferred to the sales office in October. Prior to that, he worked at Malat Produce for 22 years and started his career at Zuccaro Produce.

Mr. Weikert said, “I have been happily married for 39 years, and all of our children are adults. We now have eight grandchildren, which is a lot of fun.”