When sheâs not at the motorcycle race track, sheâs probably promoting Texas citrus.
Paula Fouchek, marketing director for Edinburg (Texas) Citrus Association, got into produce by happenstance, and stayed because of passion.
It all started in the 1980s, when Paula found herself living in Dallas, looking for a job in the public relations and marketing fields. A friend suggested looking at Mission-based TexaSweet Citrus Marketing Inc.. She did, and landed a job as public relations and merchandising coordinator.
âI worked there until the first major freeze in 1983, which was a devastating freeze,â Fouchek said. âThatâs when I went over to the vegetable side.â
For the next 10 years, Fouchekâs work focused on the vegetable side of the Texas agriculture industry. She helped found the Texas Fresh Promotional Board, which was funded through a marketing order to represent the sweet onion and melon industries, and served as executive director.
Ten years later, in 1994, Fouchek was back working with citrus after starting her own consulting business, and took on Edinburg Citrus as a major account.
âSheâs one of the more perceptive and original marketers that I know of in south Texas,â said John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association, Mission.
âThereâs no question that her accomplishments are considerable. She has been very active in this organization and in other promotional organizations and sheâs just a great asset for the industry.â
When she started out in the industry, Fouchek said, there werenât many women in her type of position, going out and doing merchandising, working with produce companies and calling on people.
âBut certainly there was ground broken before me,â Fouchek said.
âThere werenât too many, and that certainly has evolved, and thatâs exciting, to see so many (women) involved and passionate about it now.â
As her involvement in the produce industry grew, Paula found herself, during many years, sitting on the boards of other produce associations.
She has been a member of the Produce Marketing Associationâs board of directors, its retail division board, the Texas Produce Association board of directors, as well as its shipper division, and the Texas A&M Vegetable & Fruit Improvement Center industry advisory committee.
âSheâs a very diligent worker whoâs been involved in many different positions, so she has perspective from many viewpoints,â McClung said.
âPaula has the ability to recognize early on what needs to be done and to bring other people along so that whatever it is that needs to be addressed is properly addressed early on.â
McClung said Paulaâs experience and confidence have helped her.
âShe knows the major players, she is not intimidated by them, and she therefore is more effective in working with them,â McClung said. John Wessel, fresh fruit sales for Edinburg Citrus, has worked with Paula for more than a decade, since he was a buyer at Jewell Cos.
âShe does our merchandising program with retail outlets and just does an outstanding job,â he said.
In whatever time that left her, Paula and her husband, Kip, raised their son Shea and supported his pursuit of the motorcycle racing sport. Shea is now a 23-year-old professional road racer.
âA lot of what weâve done over the years is working with him on his motorcycle career,â Fouchek said. âIt keeps life interesting for sure.â