Editor's Note: The article that follows is part of the 13th edition of The Packer 25 Profiles in Leadership. These reports offer some insight into what drives successful people in produce. Please congratulate these industry members when you see them and tell them to keep up the good work.

Diamond Fruit president and CEO David Garcia, the newest chairman of Pear Bureau Northwest, started his career in the produce industry as a 25-year-old with an accounting degree.

A native of Wyoming, he was looking to move west after graduating college, so he took an entry-level job at Diamond.

Garcia soon fell hard for the cooperative as he got to know the grower-owners and hear their stories.

“That passion and love for what they do is just really overwhelming,” Garcia said. “When I’ve had opportunities to leave, that’s what’s probably helped me stay here.”

Garcia rose through the ranks from accounting manager to controller to vice president of finance before arriving at his current position.

His tenure as chairman for Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest began in early October, and he was excited about filling the role.

“To be able to work with the other outstanding leaders in that area is something I never thought I would personally be able to do,” Garcia said, “so I’m very thankful for that accomplishment.”

Looking ahead

Also during his time in charge at Diamond, Garcia has put into place measures that have vastly improved safety in the packinghouse, and the company is going to be the first to have a line designed with optical sorting for pears specifically.

Diamond is working with Italian company Unitec on the project, with a prototype at Diamond now and the full line set to be installed in time to sort the 2018 crop.

“I don’t think unless a house went out and actually actively sought this, it would have necessarily come quite yet,” Garcia said. “I think that we helped that along a little bit, so we’re proud of that.”

A broader endeavor for Garcia has been building a strong staff that is comfortable speaking up about how to better the business.

“I wanted to make sure that people had an opportunity to voice, to shape, to contribute to the company,” Garcia said. “The feedback I’ve gotten is the team is extremely happy with that ability for that input.”

The open communication lines are also appreciated by Scott Marboe, director of marketing for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, which sells pears from Hood River, Ore.-based Diamond.

“I can always pick up the phone, and he can always pick up the phone, and we can have an open conversation that benefits both of us in the long run,” Marboe said. “He’s just a really genuine person who has the respect of myself and the company and everybody that’s ever been associated with him in the industry.”