Paul Guy was born to fresh produce.
The business owned and operated by his father and grandfather was at the Cleveland Wholesale Market.
“I spent a lot of time there from the time I was five years old,” Guy said.
In addition, the Guy family lived on the edge of farmland owned by his other grandfather, he said.
In 1981, Guy discarded his cold weather clothes and headed for a sales job in Nogales, Ariz.
“After four years, some of my customers urged me to strike out on my own and pledged to support me,” Guy said. “So I did.”
As PDG Produce Inc. prepares for its 25th anniversary in October, some of those original customers are still buying from him, he said.
The early years were challenging. Guy did all the buying and selling and accounting work in the first year before surrendering the bookkeeping to his wife the second year, he said.
He imported an Ohio cousin in 1990 and added three more salesmen four years later.
“In that first year, I sold about 150 loads of produce,” Guy said. “Today, we move about 2,000 loads.”
Growth is not limited to sales volume. PDG Produce built its own warehouse and cold storage facility in 1997, then purchased and refurbished a second warehouse-cold storage building last year.
“Between the two, our cold storage capacity is more than 50,000 square feet,” Guy said.
While PDG Produce remains a seven day a week operation during the height of the vegetable harvests, the duration of that peak has lengthened in 25 years.
“When I started in 1985, we started to get busy in mid-November and everything slowed down by the end of April,” Guy said.
Today, he said PDG Produce is busy from Oct. 1 through May.
PDG Produce sells to resale and wholesale customers throughout the U.S. and Canada, Guy said.
As he looks back over the past 25 years, the company’s growth and success are not Guy’s fondest memories.
“I’m grateful for all of my customers who have stuck with me and for the distributors in Nogales who believed in me,” he said.
Guy is not considering retirement soon, but the succession plan is taking shape. A 32-year-old nephew is first in line to fill his shoes, Guy said. And Guy hopes his own 4-year-old son will someday take the reins.