TUBAC, AZ — The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas honored two members of the Nogales produce industry with "Pillars of the FPAA" awards during its 44th annual convention, held Nov. 8-10 at the Tubac Golf Resort, here. The awards were presented Nov. 10 during the closing gala.
James K. (Jimmy) Wilson, second-generation member of Wilson Produce in Nogales, AZ, and son of company founder James C. Wilson, was honored posthumouslyfor contributions to the Nogales produce industry before his untimely death in 1977.
Matt Mandel of Sun Fed, who is chairman-elect of FPAA, presented the award to Mr. Wilson's daughters, Bobbie Lundstrom and Alicia Bon Martin, who were overcome with emotion while thanking the group of attendees assembled for the closing reception Nov. 10.
In his remarks about Mr. Wilson, Mr. Mandel related that the 1950 Stanford University graduate was drafted to serve in the Korean War and, upon his return, built the Southwest Produce Center. The center was the first produce and business complex of its kind in southern Arizona and it provided offices, warehouses, cold and dry storage incorporating both rail and trailer modes of transportation to many growers, shippers and brokers in the produce business.
"[Mr. Wilson] was greatly respected and admired by all who knew him, and he was known for his progressive and innovative thinking and doing," said Mr. Mandel. "He was a strong advocate for community beautification and dedicated many hours in the landscaping of Nogales."
Mr. Wilson,who died suddenly in 1977 at the age of 48, was also president of the West Mexico Vegetable Distributor Association, the precursor to what is today's FPAA, added Mr. Mandel.
Following that presentation, Alejandro Canelos of Apache Produce Imports in Nogales, AZ, who is chairman of the FPAA, presented a "Pillar of the FPAA" award to Alberto (Beto) Maldonado, who most recently worked as general manager of GAC Produce and who next year will celebrate his 50th year in the industry.
Mr. Maldonado, a former president of the FPAA, is credited with establishing a strong political presence both in the Nogales and in the nation's Capital, and with bridging the gap between growers and distributors, and distributors and associates.
Mr. Canelos referred to Mr. Maldonado as one who "has helped build this community on the strength of his loyalty, integrity and wisdom," and as one who "quietly and forcefully leads by example."
He added, "Beto has taught us that we are all essential parts of this amazing machine, and that if we find common ground on which to work together, we will all succeed together."
This marked the third year of the "Pillars of the FPAA" award presentation. Past recipients include George Gotsis, Roy Lundstrom, Al Harrison and Walter Holm.
The convention this year saw a large turnout, with nearly 500 people attending the popular opening fiesta and 270 attending the closing gala.
Three educational sessions were held during the convention covering transportation issues, marketing produce to the growing Hispanic population and social media.
And, as in past years, golf played a central part of the convention, with a two-day tournament held at the Tubac Golf Resort and the Kino Springs Golf Course. The tournament yielded a winner of the hole-in-one contest, Carlos Barraza of Franks Distributing of Produce LLC.
"This year's event was spectacular, and we're delighted at the participation," said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the FPAA. "Representation from all facets of our industry - from growers to importers to buyers - was very well balanced. Special thanks goes out to our sponsors who make this relationship-building event possible."