Jorge Quintero Jr., 31, had his first experience in the produce industry when he was only about 5 years old.
“My dad was a field inspector, and he took me around to sheds, and I’d see what he was doing with the quality control,” he said.
He never expected to join the industry himself, but after college, his father encouraged him to give it a shot.
“I got a job as a sales assistant at SunFed, Nogales, Ariz., and over the next few years became a full-time salesman,” he said.
While in his position there, he met Luis Caballero, who was working in grower relations. The two joked about combining areas of expertise and opening up their own company, but Quintero said he never expected it to happen so soon. They formed Grower Alliance LLC in 2007.
“We saw the opportunity, gathered a little bit of money and went for it,” Quintero said. “And that whole first year we had some really good markets.”
After the initial success, Quintero hired his father, Jorge Quintero Sr., to add a boost to the sales staff, who also became a partner when he came on board.
Quintero Jr. says his father has been his biggest mentor, while Jorge Quintero Sr. says he’s quite proud of all his son’s accomplishments, citing his good communication skills as a key part of his success.
“When he’s dealing with customers, he really hears what the customer needs and is able to develop the services they need so we can give them better service,” Jorge Quintero Sr. said.
He’s also confident that all the sales experience his son has acquired early in life will help him develop into a stronger leader.
“He’s always striving for more knowledge, and I think the experiences he’s had with his sales jobs will help him be able to take over the managing part of our sales team.”
The young company, now in its sixth year, has seen continued growth.
“We’ve seen growth every single year, and last year we purchased our own warehouse,” Jorge Quintero Jr. said.
For now, the company’s main business is wholesale, but Quintero plans to increase the company’s retail presence, which is currently not much over 5% of the business.
“We want to have a more direct relationship where we can offer our products year-round,” he said. “That has been the biggest hurdle, but this year we’ve been able to close the gaps and have consistent supply so far.”
Another issue early on was establishing clients.
“When we started, we had concerns if people would take us seriously, but little by little we’ve realized it didn’t matter how old we were. What mattered was the product,” he said.
Jorge Quintero Jr. says the thing he enjoys most about the industry is that every day brings a new job to do.
“With perishables, you start all over every day, so the job doesn’t get boring,” he said.
He’s also interested in how technology, such as cell phones and iPads, is changing the way people do business.
“Two weeks ago, I was on vacation and putting in orders while I was there. They couldn’t do that 10 years ago.”