Courtesy Del Campo Supreme Inc.Martin Ley, Del Campo Supreme Inc. Last winter, when a devastating freeze wiped out acre upon acre of vegetables in Mexico and Florida, many produce buyers received notices explaining why their suppliers couldn’t fill their contracts.
That wasn’t the case for customers of Del Campo Supreme Inc., Nogales, Ariz.
“We filled every contract commitment,” vice president Martin Ley said.
Attention to detail and commitment to customer service have characterized Ley and the family-owned company since he began working there in 1993.
The family started a growing operation in 1980 but distributed its product through other companies until establishing the Nogales location in 1991.
Ley, 47, worked at Casa Ley, his family’s supermarket chain in Mexico, during his high school and college years and for Safeway Inc. in Oakland, Calif., for four years after graduating from Panamerican University in Mexico City.
But as an industrial engineering major, his knowledge of produce distribution was limited when an uncle asked him to try to make a go of the family’s struggling Nogales operation.
“It was something new to me,” Ley said, so he went about familiarizing himself with the company’s operation and befriending some of the town’s seasoned produce professionals such as Jim Cathey, George Gotsis and Bob Shipley.
He became active in the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas trade organization, eventually serving as vice chairman and as chairman of the tomato division.
Cathey, general manager and sales manager at Del Campo Supreme, has known Ley for 20 years and worked with him for 10 years.
He describes Ley as a committed family man who has “a lot of passion for his work and compassion for fellow workers.”
“He’s created a family atmosphere in the workplace that makes it very special when you’re working there,” he said.
One of the company’s customers, Rich Dachman, vice president of produce for Houston-based Sysco Corp., says, “(Ley’s) integrity and his company’s integrity is top notch.”
“He really has a way of analyzing things in an academic way,” he said.
Dachman commended Ley for his industry involvement and for “defending the global thought process.”
“He has really made a difference,” he said.
Ley said he and his employees at Del Campo Supreme serve three masters — customers, consumers and growers.
That means he must pay attention to trends in the industry, stay in tune with consumers' needs and implement the latest technology at the growing level, he said.
In 1994, Del Campo Supreme added its first greenhouses. The company also has an organic program.
The firm signed on with the HarvestMark traceback program in 2008 but had implemented its own traceback program long before it became fashionable.
The company grows several kinds of tomatoes and bell peppers and sells products such as cucumbers, eggplant and squash for other growers.
Volume has increased from 1 million packages a year to 10 million over the past decade.