David Fausset didn’t plan on a career in produce, but after one summer internship he was hooked.

Fausset has been with Mission Produce, Oxnard, Calif., since he was 23 and fresh out of college. His first position with the company was a basic summer internship in the sales office.

Now, 37, he’s advanced to the position of sales and category manager for fresh avocados.

“Back then, they were just beginning to get into a growth mode, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had never studied the agriculture side of the business, so I was seeing it and learning it firsthand, which was very intriguing to me,” he said.

Looking back on his time as a salesman, Fausset is most proud of establishing deep connections with his customers, some of which quadrupled in sales in a four-year period.

“It’s very exciting to have achieved that level of success with our customer base,” he said.

The avocado category has seen tremendous growth throughout the industry as well, something Fausset is passionate about.

“When I started here in the late ’90s, consumption was about 600 million pounds per year. This year the industry will move more than 1.4 billion pounds. That type of growth makes it an exciting category,” he said.

Many of Fausset’s future goals revolve around his deep passion for the avocado commodity.

“I believe in the category so much that I want to continue with it,” he said.

He would like to take an active role in the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board, where he serves as an alternate board member.

He also says the company has certain goals for growth that are still ahead of them.

“I’d like to realize those in my career at Mission,” he said. “I just have a passion for avocados.”

Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine, has seen that passion firsthand.

“In my experience, you meet a lot of people and some just stand out because they clearly have a passion for the product and the industry,” she said. “When I first met him, he was a young guy just getting started, and he had an enthusiasm for learning everything he could.”

DeLyser said the growth of the category has been the result of folks working together while having key marketing support.

“Having people like Dave is critical,” she said.