Diamond’s first 100 years

Employees honored at centennial party and open house

ODELL — A hundred-years’ hubbub filled Diamond Fruit Growers packing plant and offices on April 24.

The company celebrated its centennial with an open house attended by several hundred people at Diamond Central plant.

“It just means everything,” Board Chair Linda Gray said of the centennial event.

“It’s something to celebrate,” she said. “With the economy as it’s been, very few companies make it to this age.”

President David Garcia said the company was gratified by the size of the turnout.

Honored employees, Diamond Fruit Company

Here are the Diamond employees honored April 224 and their lengths of service.

54 years — Jack Keller

44 — Ed Coon

40 — Kathryn Widman

39— Elena Gonzalez

38 — Tom Furrow

37 — John Campbell, Raul Oseguera

36 — Linda Kotila, Peggy Coon, Guadalupe Munoz

35 — Garry Rawlings, David Garcia

34 — David Douglas, Mary Crowder

Socorro Verdusco, Michael Hutson, Maria Loza, Jeff Hasagawa

33 — David Mooney, Carmen Cortez, Shelia Long

Antonia Romero, Maria Ramirez-Valdovinos, Guadalupe Cisneros

32 — Maria Villalobos, Amalia Munoz, Jesus Jimenez, Guillermina Salamanca-Sanchez, Victor De La Rosa

31 — Olivia Barajas, Luz Castaneda

30 — Maria Morales, Miguel De La Rosa, Rick Packer, Otilio Gonzalez

Gray, the first woman to serve as DFG board chair, said she asked board members and management to prepare the event and serve the employees and public during the open house, “and everyone was excited to do it.”

“I think that’s kind of a key to how we feel about each other,” Gray said. “We can’t do this without good employees and good employees who’ve been here a long time.”

Garcia led guided tours through the sorting and packing lines, packaging and shipping, and into the deepest recesses of the cold storage facilities, where cold rooms and airtight storage chambers keep fruit throughout the year.

In the warmth of the Diamond lobby, visitors enjoyed displays of photos and memorabilia from over the years, assembled by a committee led by field service representative Cory Yasui.

The community enjoyed fruit slices, fittingly, and chocolate cake, along with barbecued hamburgers, and the employees were treated to a luncheon before the open house. DFG honored 31 employees for longevity (see list below.)

“We had a wonderful employee luncheon and we recognized longevity. They are so humbled by it, and they are here to help us and do the very best job they can, and through the ups and downs for the company we have always asked a lot of the employees and they have always stepped up to the plate,” Gray said, crediting Garcia, “who is very well liked,” for his leadership.

Board member Gordy Sato helped greet the community. Sato, a Parkdale grower, said, “My dad, Ray, served for many years on Diamond’s board of directors, during a tumultuous time, when many unpleasant decisions were made, in order to ensure the consistency and continuity of the company. I have served for many years on the Diamond Fruit’s board of Directors as well, and also have had to make some crucial decisions regarding what was best for our growers, and for Diamond as a company. The loyalty that my dad, along with many other longtime Diamond growers, has carried Diamond through good times and rough times, and brought us to the position that we find ourselves today.

“Diamond Fruit is once again, at the top, and its commitment to quality product, and the ability to change with the times, will carry it forward for another 100 years.”

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