When Hesiquio Garcia started working for Earthbound Farm in 1992, pulling weeds in the fields, he never imagined that he would someday oversee shipping for the entire company, more than 25 years later.
We chatted with Hesiquio about what it was like growing up with Earthbound—his first and only employer—and what has kept him here, as the company catapulted from a small, local grower to the largest organic packaged salad brand in North America.
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What first brought you to Earthbound Farm in 1992?
My cousins worked for Earthbound, so I heard about it from them. The weeds were going crazy in the fields (and of course with organic, you can’t apply chemicals), so they needed help. At the time, they harvested everything by hand. It was hard work. I got paid $4.50 an hour. I was on my knees all day, pulling weeds, clearing the way for the cutters.
What was it like in the early days of the company? How is it different now?
At the time, Earthbound was just a tiny company in the Carmel Valley. When I started, there was no HR department. We didn’t have computers. There were maybe 20 employees. It was like family. In fact, I knew our founders, Drew and Myra, very well. For a while, I even lived in their guest house; took care of their dogs and helped take care of their raspberry and test fields. So I’m very devoted to them and the vision they created for the company.
When I first started, I think our cooler at the time held 4-8 pallets of product. For perspective, today they hold about 6500 pallets. That gives you an idea for the kind of growth we’ve seen over the years. But even today, the fundamentals of our business are still the same…we harvest, pack, and ship…albeit on a much, much larger scale.
You’ve had 8 very different positions within the company. What was your path to your current role?
As the company continued to grow, so did the opportunities. My first few jobs were in the fields. After pulling weeds, I moved to cutting the lettuce. As I mentioned, everything at the time was still harvested by hand. My third job was as an irrigator, watering the lettuce. Of the field jobs, this was my favorite because while it was hard work moving the irrigation pipes, it was a great workout and so peaceful being out in the fields by myself.
Next, I became the produce manager at the Farm Stand, which involved stocking product on the shelves in the market and ensuring the displays looked nice. This was really my first chance to interact directly with the people who buy our products. I really enjoyed hearing their feedback, good or bad. However, the Farm Stand was only open seasonally at the time, so in the off-season I became a driver, making produce deliveries to the Monterey peninsula and bay area restaurants and supermarkets. This role was an important stepping stone for me because it gave me visibility into our product shipping and distribution, which ultimately would lead me to job opportunities in our manufacturing facility.
I started in our plant as a Facilities Supervisor, where I developed skills such as scheduling employees, product orders and assessing workloads. This allowed me to eventually move into a shipping manager role. After some time in that position, my current position – Sr. Shipping Manager – was posted. While I wasn’t sure if I was qualified, I decided to apply anyway. (This was the first job I applied for at Earthbound Farm apart from my first…my other jobs simply evolved with the changing needs of a growing company). I was surprised and humbled when I got the job and grateful that the company saw my potential to rise to a new challenge.
So what, in simple terms, does a Senior Shipping Manager do?
I’m responsible for ensuring our finished product get loaded onto trucks with accuracy and efficiency so our customers get the products they ordered in a timely fashion. This involves scheduling and coordinating a lot of different people to get the incoming orders out the door and on the truck: loaders, rotators, gatekeepers and dispatchers.
In shipping, you see the end-to-end process, including how our product ultimately impacts our customer, which I find to be very rewarding.
Earthbound Farm is the only company for which you’ve worked. Why?
It feels great to be part of a company that brings the benefits of organic food to so many people. Being with Earthbound Farm from so early on, and personally knowing Myra and Drew, I feel such a strong connection to their vision and responsibility to help carry it forward. Also, I find the work environment here very enjoyable – I love the people I’ve worked with over the years and all of the interesting opportunities I’ve had to grow with the company.
I also really enjoy interacting with our customers. While there can be challenges, there is nothing more rewarding than when our customers are appreciative of the service we provide.
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