A young woman fresh from university walks into the family apple business and announces to staff at least twice her age that she’s about to modernize the entire company with their help.
“I told the team a million times: ‘If you don’t like the new way we can go back to the old way, but I promise you will like the new way,’” said Alisha Albinder Camac, operations director for Hudson River Fruit Distributors in Milton, N.Y., one of the East Coast’s largest apple grower-packer-shippers. And they did.
The fourth-generation grower, whose great-grandfather sold apples from a pushcart in Brooklyn in the 1930s, joined Hudson River in 2013 after graduating from Boston’s Northeastern University with a degree in finance and entrepreneurship and two years’ experience as a produce buyer in New York City.
“I feel like I was born into it; I have a knack for it,” she said.
To help staff deal with the changes ahead, she asked them to read Spencer Johnson’s 1998 book “Who Moved My Cheese?”
Over the next several years she worked on modernizing every aspect of the 58-year-old company’s operation, from computers and new packing house equipment to adding new farms and planting new varieties.
Turns out she was just warming up.
"One of the traits that makes Alisha successful in our industry is her work ethic. ... She truly embodies what this industry has been built upon." — Alex DiNovo, DNO Produce
In 2018 she graduated from the year-long United Fresh Produce Association Leadership program, “the best thing I’ve ever done!” She also serves on the board of the U.S. Apple Association and the New York Apple Association.
These days you’ll find Albinder Camac working more on the sales and marketing side.
“I am a very solution-oriented person,” she said. “Creating new packs and products is a perfect way to give a customer something they didn’t even know they needed.”
She also loves immersing herself in other areas of the operation.
“I’ll spend the morning talking to growers and packing partners, put on my sales hat to talk to a buyer then join an industry conference call. I see the challenges our farms, retailers and our own company face, which propels me to keep updating and innovating.”
But her greatest joy is being able to work with her own and other family businesses.
“I have learned so much from my grandfather Harold and father Daniel,” she said. “I attribute my success to having great leaders to learn from.”
Her energy and success have not gone unnoticed.
"When it comes to having women and maternal figures who can lead organizations while being able to empathize, cultivate creativity and drive excellence into the future, look to Alisha Albinder for that continued energy and spirit." — Rebecca Meyers, Misionero Vegetables
“One of the traits that makes Alisha successful in our industry is her work ethic,” said Alex DiNovo, president and COO of DNO Produce in Columbus, Ohio.
“She has the tenacity to put out fires in the morning, drum up sales in the afternoon and create new relationships in the evening, all while taking care of her young son. She truly embodies what this industry has been built upon.”
Long-time colleague Rebecca Meyers, sales manager of Misionero Vegetables, Gonzales, Calif., said Albinder Camac “exemplifies someone who breaks boundaries when it comes to working hard and staying on trend. She has stretched the status quo, brought life to consumer outreach and leveraged customer connections at all levels. She uses her opportunity as a fourth-generation family farmer and business owner as momentum to ensure a bigger and stronger company for her next generation.
“When it comes to having women and maternal figures who can lead organizations while being able to empathize, cultivate creativity and drive excellence into the future, look to Alisha Albinder for that continued energy and spirit,” Meyers said.
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Packer 25 2020 — Joe Barsi