Feb 24, 2023
Westside Produce’s Jim Malanca plans to leave post

Jim Malanca, the longtime vice president of sales and marketing for Westside Produce, a major melon grower, is planning to leave his position.

For 40 years, Malanca has helmed melon sales as a company owner and leader in Firebaugh, California. He plans to leave later in February, according to a news release.

Westside Produce’s Jim Malanca, left, and Steve Patricio. Malanca, who was a partner with Patricio at Westside for 40 years, is retiring.

“Over the past four decades, Jim has made significant contributions to the melon industry, to the growth of Westside Produce and to the success of the TRI brand,” Steve Patricio, Westside’s founder, said in the release. “We will miss Jim’s voice on the desk, but his hard work, dedication and commitment have laid a solid foundation for Westside Produce moving forward. We are grateful for his support and leadership.”

A Firebaugh native, Malanca graduated with an ag business degree from California State University in Fresno. He always knew he wanted to sell produce, specifically melons.

“I got my first sales job by walking into a melon packing shed in Bakersfield and expressing interest,” Malanca said in the release. “Six months later, they hired me. I was still in college, but that was the beginning of my career in the melon industry.”

Malanca explained how he met Jess Telles, owner of TRI Produce, at a convention in 1980.
Telles hired Malanca at the convention and Malanca went to work for the world’s largest melon grower-packer-shipper, he said in the release.

In 1987, Patricio took over TRI and named Malanca sales manager. In 1993, Patricio and Telles formed Westside Produce and made Malanca a part owner.

“Steve is the real reason I became a partner at Westside Produce and I appreciate what he has done for this company and for me,” Malanca said in the release. “What I’ll miss most about being on the sales desk is the role I played in helping our growers, retail buyers, and foodservice customers. The people I’ve worked with throughout the years have become more than customers, they are friends.”

While he’s leaving the day-to-day selling of melons, Malanca said he doesn’t plan to end his interest in the industry and helping growers.

Mark George, who has worked alongside Malanca for the past 20 years as sales manager, plans to take over Malanca’s duties in overseeing sales.

“We welcome Mark to the executive leadership team at Westside Produce,” Garrett Patricio, Westside’s president, said in the release. “He has our full support as we begin this new chapter.”

Westside is one of the largest grower-packer-shippers of cantaloupe and honeydew melons in California and Arizona.

 




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