28 Jan Chris Wortman Joins West Pak Avocado
Introducing Chris Wortman. He’s based out of our Oxnard, California office and is the newest member of our Sales and Business Development team. We’re thrilled to have him on board and welcome him to our avocado family.
We recently sat down with Chris to get to know him better and share a mutual admiration for everyone’s favorite green fruit. Let’s listen in…
WPA: What is your background in the produce industry?
Chris: I started as a clerk in the shipping and receiving warehouse at a local grower packing house. I would handle all of the trucks coming in to either drop off or pick up fruit, monitoring inventory, assigning fruit to orders and just managing any problems that came up. My warehouse experience lasted seven years, with one year as a supervisor. After that, I was brought into the sales office as an assistant, where I worked for four years.
WPA: What made you get into the produce industry to begin with?
Chris: Honestly, I just happen to fall into it. Right out of high school, I was working at a local hardware store, and one of the guys that worked there part-time was also a maintenance worker at a local avocado packing house. Knowing that I needed a better-paying job to afford to go to school, he got me an application and helped get me in. Looking back, I don’t think I knew how big the produce industry was in my own town of Santa Paula, a large agricultural community.
WPA: Aside from sales and business development, what are your strongest skillsets that you bring to West Pak?
Chris: My years of experience in shipping/receiving and sales. The warehouse was high-paced at times, and you had to be able to stay organized while constantly keeping track of trucks, inventory, coworkers, and communicating with sales on any order issues. Sales is pretty much more of the same, but now we’re talking price/ads with customers and working with sourcing to ensure orders are covered.
WPA: How did you get into sales?
Chris: After I got my AA in general sciences from Ventura College, I was going to go off to a four-year. Just when I was thinking about pulling the trigger on doing a loan, I ended up having a couple of friends of mine talk me into pursuing becoming a firefighter. I knew that I did not want to stay in the shipping and receiving position, so I started firefighter school by taking a few classes. On the verge of applying for the fire academy, the opportunity arose to join the sales team at the packing house.
WPA: What do you look forward to most of your new position at West Pak?
Chris: The opportunity to link up with Joe Nava, who is an excellent salesperson, and others on the team and be able to help West Pak grow the Oxnard office. The resources and information West Pak provides to its employees is going to go a long way in helping me develop into a better salesperson.
Have you met our CEO yet?
Chris: Yes, I did have the opportunity to meet Mario. It was Mario, Doug, and Joe in one of my interviews.
WPA: What do you do in your spare time?
Chris: I like to travel and play baseball in an adult league. It’s my favorite sport – I still play on Sundays, and then one of my travel goals is to visit every baseball stadium in the country. There are 30 stadiums in total, and I have 11 more to go. Every year I try to get a few more of those knocked off my list. Last year, I got to travel quite a bit for work and got to see a lot of new places.
WPA: So, are you a true avo-fan?
Chris: Yes, absolutely – I do love avocados. My go-to morning snack is my own version of avocado toast where I mash up half an avocado and two hard-boiled eggs and then spread that on toast. I add some salt and pepper to season and a little hot sauce over the top.
WPA: Working for an avocado company, do friends and family always ask you to bring the guac at gatherings?
Chris: Not every time. It’s usually during a gathering people see me and remember what I do; then they’re kicking themselves for not reaching out. It’s funny, though, when there is a holiday or event, people think I need to have avocado memorabilia all over my house. For Christmas, it’s like “here’s something with avocados on it.” My wife and I even got avocado-themed gifts for our wedding like an avocado salt and pepper shaker, a coffee mug, and a bunch of other stuff.