With a longstanding passion for the avocado industry, Vice President of Sales & Business Development Joe Nava was initially drawn to West Pak’s core values, strong vertical integration, and stable infrastructure. Now, with both feet firmly planted on the ground with his new avocado family, Joe is excited to help the company grow to its full potential. With free reign to explore new territories and help strengthen the company’s customer relationships, this new hire (and new dad, btw) is ready to take on the challenge.
They might say you are no “novice” to the avocado industry. What experience and strengths do you bring to West Pak?
Joe Nava: I have a decade of industry experience with two other well-known produce companies. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in agriculture business and a minor in marketing, I dove head-first into the produce industry. My career started by working on the operational side, eventually working my way onto the sales desk. I have seen all of the struggles that every junior or senior sales rep experiences, from bringing on accounts to developing them and ultimately keeping them. My experience on the operational side gives me a unique perspective to help our team work together with a goal to provide the ultimate service and freshness to the customer.
In addition to my experience in sales and sales management, my expertise includes forecasting, account management, product development, supply chain, and inventory management. With my new role in Sales & Business Development, I’ll be heavily engaged with the leadership and development of our sales team; and as our company continues to grow, with new talent acquisitions. As a member of West Pak’s executive management team, I will also be involved in a wide variety of initiatives and decision making across many areas of our company including marketing and research and development campaigns.
What is your first order of business for 2020?
Joe Nava: West Pak has afforded me the ability to connect not only with our retail customers but also with current foodservice and wholesalers in order to strengthen our relationships and grow our businesses. The company is allowing me to freely develop accounts and bring new ones to the table, and so far, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback.
What do you love most about West Pak as a company?
Joe Nava: What I’ve always loved about West Pak is the fact that the company is family-owned and places a lot of value on family. That’s important to me. There’s also a lot of passion behind the family here – West Pak sincerely cares about their customers, their growers, and their employees. It shows in how the company does business and treats people at all levels.
West Pak is also a true California avocado grower, which is huge and communicates well to our customers. A successful produce company needs to know and respect the journey from the tree to the store, or to the plate at a restaurant. West Pak truly understands the process and what it takes to grow a premium avocado and get it to where it needs to be.
How is West Pak focused on being a leader in avocados?
Joe Nava: Within the next five years, West Pak has the potential for significant growth. Some companies cannot keep up with avocado demand, but at West Pak we’re doing the necessary things in sourcing and investing in operations to increase our production in order to keep up with the national growth in consumption.
One critical thing with West Pak is our investment in other countries of origin. Mexico is the primary avocado provider in the United States and is continuing to grow, but we are now looking at other countries to keep up with the demand. We are sourcing Peruvian and Chilean avocados and will continue looking into other countries as fruit consumption and demand increases.
Another one of our strengths involves the strategic locations of our distribution warehouses, which are essential to delivering fresh avocados to the customer. With our prime geographic positioning and the ripening capabilities within our regions, our customers know that they are getting the freshest avocados.
One of our points of difference is our Avo-Opportunities retail program. Our team of sales and marketing experts offers help with custom branding, marketing, and point of purchase materials, even social media and influencer campaigns at the regional level.
We’re also focusing on global expansion and the ethics side – I’m proud that we are doing our part for the fair trade initiative. West Pak wants to give back to the growers and the labor side; to do our part to make sure that we are applying the right kind of pressure in support of good farming and labor practices. Not a lot of avocado shippers are doing that. We love being part of the fair trade movement for avocados and hope it catches on with the other shippers.
What are some of the ways that avocados have positively affected your life?
Joe Nava: The avocado is literally part of my life and my career, and it translates into who I am. I love being the guy who sells avocados. Let me tell you, I’m always welcomed at every holiday, and I never need to worry about what to take to a family dinner because they always ask me to bring guacamole. I love being able to say, “I’ve got the guac guys, don’t worry!”
What are you most excited about for PMA Fresh Summit in October?
Joe Nava: I’m excited about the attendance and the vibrancy of the foot traffic. I can’t wait to see all of the customers – to have them come by to experience our new booth and to meet our West Pak family. And, with Mario, our CEO, in attendance, it’s an excellent opportunity for customers to get to know the head of our avocado family. We have such an incredible pool of talent with so many years of combined knowledge in the industry that I’m thrilled to showcase our team to the industry.
I’m also looking forward to the chance to talk about our bagged avocados program, which is different from anybody in the industry. I love the creativity with the Lil’Cados, the I Love Avocados (brand), Viva Avocados, California Gold, plus the value that the heart-healthy mark on the bags brings to the table. To be a certified heart-healthy item is huge and is a great value to our retailers. No one else has these great retail brands, but we do. And, I can’t wait to share!
Looking to meet with Joe Nava or any member of the West Pak sales or marketing team at PMA? Feel free to reach out to set your appointment.