Kreidler It was a surprisingly easy transition from an affinity for rocks — the igneous kind and others — to a passion for Texas Rio Stars, the grapefruit kind.
When she enrolled at Texas A&M University, Gretchen Kreidler — now marketing and public relations director for Mission, Texas-based Rio Queen Citrus Inc. — planned to major in earth sciences and vowed never to return to the Rio Grande Valley, where she had spent her life to that point.
“I liked rocks,” she said. “When I aced my first geology class, I said, ‘Well, I guess this is what it’s supposed to be.’”
While Kreidler did not abandon her major, life’s circumstances would take her from rocks to fresh produce and ultimately dictate a return to the valley.
After graduating, there were limited job prospects for a fan of rocks, Kreidler said, so she interviewed with TexaSweet Citrus Marketing, Mission, and was hired on the spot, she said. Over the years, Kreidler has been mentored by some incredible people, she said. It was TexaSweet, and particularly Anna Martin, who first fostered what would become Kreidler’s passion for citrus.
“Everyone at TexaSweet helped to fuel my fire (for citrus),” Kreidler said. “But Anna really took me under her wing and molded me into a professional.”
What Martin admits began as a mothering role developed into a different relationship with Kreidler over the years.
“While she is a good friend, she is also very professional and always follows through on any task or duty that she has ever been asked to do,” she said.
So complete was Martin’s molding that Standard Fruit and Vegetable Co. Inc. would lure Kreidler away from TexaSweet. At Dallas-based Standard, Kreidler would further hone her marketing skills. A commitment to family, however, would trigger a hiatus from the fresh produce industry.
In 2002, Kreidler took over the family’s then 91-year-old business, Kreidler Funeral Home, in McAllen, Texas. After six years as the family’s first woman funeral director since her great, great grandmother held the title, Kreidler began to miss the fresh produce industry, she said.
To the rescue came Rio Queen Citrus, where in 2008 Kreidler took over marketing, public relations and — more recently — has begun assisting in sales.
“You can’t really say I’m marketing director, because I don’t direct anybody,” she said.