Josh Estebane is a third generation produce industry pro with experience in wholesale, retail, and foodservice sales. He brings a fresh outlook and a youthful vibe to West Pak along with a strong background in customer service, time management, and food safety.
How many years have you been in the produce industry?
Josh: Since I was 17, so, five years. I have been with West Pak for two years.
When I first started, I was working at the LA Wholesale Market. I knew that I wanted to get into sales and that I had to prove myself to do so. It was essential to understand where everything comes from, how many go on each pallet, how fruit should look, and so I worked my way from the bottom to get onto the sales desk. I started by setting up orders, loading and unloading the trucks, receiving product, checking product back in that was rejected, and stuff like that. Then I started managing inventories, and from there after about a year and a half, I got onto the sales desk. We used to sell bananas, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, onions, limes, chilies, and pretty much every fruit and vegetable that you can think of. We used to sell them all but I focused on the bananas, pineapples, and avocados – in fact, I was one of West Pak’s customers.
Why are you passionate for avocados?
Josh: Growing up, my grandpa used to work at the L.A. Wholesale Market, and he mainly sold avocados. Then he started working for some other companies now he works for a Mexican packer. I always kind of liked that. I also have an uncle in produce, and he mainly sells avocados to different shippers. Because of them, I kind of wanted to follow the family trend.
With avocados, I like the fact that the market gets so crazy. Every day there is something new. There’s always a new challenge. If I did a different kind of work, it would be the same thing every day. At West Pak, you never know what your day will bring, which makes it kind of crazy and kind of fun at the same time.
What is your role at West Pak?
Josh: I’m in sales and business development and handle mainly wholesale and foodservice. I do have a few retail clients as well. A majority of my wholesale business is on the West Coast and the East Coast in the New York and New Jersey area. For foodservice, it’s a little more spread out. It’s kind of everywhere but the same sort of thing as wholesale where the most significant part is on the West Coast and in the Philly, New York, and New Jersey area.
My day-to-day is pretty cool because I sell to some of my old friends at the L.A. Wholesale Market. Also, I was able to bring a good amount of the customers that I was already selling to before.
I’m always pretty jam-packed with the wholesalers considering that they get in around two o’clock in the morning, by the time I get in, they’re waiting for me. It’s like the last thing on their list before they go home. That’s why I have to get in as many calls in as I can by 8:00 am.
Another part of my day, I’m following up on our foodservice programs, which is a different key because it’s mainly dealing with conditioned fruit and our ripening programs. For foodservice, you have to pay attention to details because we’re trying to hit a certain level of ripeness and a specific pounds of pressure where we can’t be off by more than two pounds. It gets pretty tricky. You have to make sure that you’re getting your orders in on time. You also have to ensure that your ripening guys are watching the orders and they know when they are leaving and when they are going to get there, so we’re hitting our specs.
What are you most excited to see in the future of produce innovation?
Josh: Food safety is a huge push right now. I see a lot of customers who may not have been too interested at one time that are now starting to have demands for food safety. That’s kind of just part of what’s going on with the way that the media kind of blows up everything every single time there’s a scare. So, I definitely see that as being a huge key in something that’s going to continue to be more of a factor between different vendors and how well they’re keeping on track with their food safety. Especially on the foodservice side, that’s something that they rely on us for. If they have an issue with something, they expect me to know precisely when I packed it, shipped it, and delivered it to them. And some of these guys have ordered thousands of cases, and you have to be able to go find that one box in question. So, I think food safety is something that’s definitely growing.
The produce market is going to continue to get more competitive especially with avocados just with the amount that is growing in Mexico. With Jalisco possibly opening up pretty soon, I can see the amount of competition that we are dealing with now is going to increase. If there are two crops in Mexico, it’s just going to make it crazy for us…and a lot of fun!
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s PMA Fresh Summit?
Josh: Looking to see some of the customers that West Pak values and that we work with every day, meeting them for the first time. I’m also looking forward to finding anybody else that we can help support as an avocado partner.
Want to know more about Josh? Visit his LinkedIn profile or contact him, below! Make sure to stop by to see him at PMA Fresh Summit October 18-20, 2018 in Orlando at booth #3653.