After 40 years in the produce business, Andrea Shapiro Chavez is retiring from her position as creator and manager of the Talley Farms BB #:111282 Box Program.
Armed with a degree in Economics & Marketing from Cal Poly, SLO, Ms. Chavez started her produce career in 1981 as a merchandiser for Dole Fruit Company in Fountain Valley, then transferred to Bud Antle Inc. as a vegetable salesman, working out of the Dole banana Seattle office.
Eventually, she became Western Regional Sales Manager for Dole Vegetables in Salinas.
After marrying one of her customers, Randy Chavez, who was part owner of Hutchinson Fruit Company in Albuquerque, NM, Ms. Chavez moved to Los Angeles and created the Mixed Loading Department for Tavilla Sales Co. (now Vision Produce.) After giving birth to two boys, and while fighting stage 3 breast cancer at age 35, Ms. Chavez spent 5 years at home taking care of herself and family.
In 1998, Ms. Chavez created Sweet ‘n Fresh Fruits & Vegetables, a home/office delivery company, distributing fresh produce, gourmet food items, frozen seafood, and fresh baked goods directly to consumers.
“We had our first website in 1999 but most people didn’t have home computers at that time,” says Ms. Chavez. “And even fewer people had internet connections. We faxed and mailed our weekly price lists.”
In 2011, after parents passed and kids were in college, the Chavezes moved back to the Central California Coast, at the same time as Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande wanted to start a direct-to-consumer farm box program.
The first Talley Boxes were packed and delivered in June of 2012 and the program has since grown by leaps and bounds. Focusing on top-quality, California-grown fruits and vegetables, the program boasts 8,000 subscribers, distributing boxes throughout the Western U.S.
“I am going to miss my job, my team, our customers, and all the produce salesmen I buy from, but I will not miss worrying about the weather, trucks, and produce quality! The Talley Family has become part of my family and I could not have found a better place to complete my produce career. I will continue to proudly serve on the SLO Food Bank Board and the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital Foundation Board and I am looking forward to staying involved in my community while still encouraging people to EAT MORE PRODUCE!”