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“Our Stories”

March 8, 2023

El Grupo Crespo/RCF’s Unstoppable Women

I shared my thoughts on this International Women’s Day in another post: Where Is the Spine of International Women’s “Day”? Building Bridges: Diversity & Inclusion.

 In that post I call on my fellow industry peers to welcome more diversity and inclusion on their teams, to their marketing streams, and beyond. Women and other underrepresented groups come with differing perspectives, education, skill sets, expertise, and training that should be celebrated. If we are willing to openly and honestly assess where we are at today, we can take the steps necessary to create a fairer world.

I asked those with a vehicle for sharing information in our industry to welcome more diverse voices, role models, and unstoppable leaders. Diversify who you interview, feature, and talk about. Cover topics of diverse value. Increase awareness. If we market underrepresented voices in our industry, we can help accelerate equity. But we have to support them directly, too!

Below is my contribution to the effort, celebrating a few of El Grupo Crespo/RCF’s Unstoppable Women’s voices!

Maria de la Luz Duran Valdez AKA Maluz (Crespo Family Matriarch)
Maluz runs El Grupo Crespo along with her four children. El Grupo Crespo is a group of businesses that include several businesses on both sides of the border, like Empaque Don Jorge and RCF Distributors as well as the RCF, Crespo Organic, and Mango King brands. The group specializes in fully integrated mango production, distribution and marketing of mangoes as well as a Mexican citrus distribution partnership.

Maluz harbors that rare quality of quiet power, and she has raised some of the loveliest, most honest people I have met in this business. Her devotion to her family, her business, and the communities in which they work, along with her devotion to God, reminds me daily how important it is what we do, and how much there is at stake in any given moment. The reciprocal respect and love between her and her children is one of the business’s strongest assets.

Here are some of her words and story:

“Como mujer mexicana estoy muy agradecida a la vida por haberme unido a un gran hombre Agricultor de corazón honesto y trabajador con nobles pensamientos y sentimientos porque siempre quiso buscar el bien para sus trabajadores. Juntos crecimos con este amor al campo …el cual siempre les inculcamos ese amor a ello… Mi gusto fue apoyarlo en todos sus proyectos me siento realizada como mujer el haber sido parte en todos sus proyectos al mismo tiempo que formamos una bonita familia con los mismos principios el de ayudar a nuestra gente   Mujeres y hombres de nuestra comunidad. MUCHAS GRACIAS HIJOS POR SEGUIR LOS PASOS DE SU PADRE EN EL APOYO A NUESTRA COMUNIDAD. MIS BENDICIONES PARA TODOS.”

“I am very grateful to have partnered my life with a great farmer with an honest and hard-working heart and noble thoughts and feelings. He always wanted to look for the good for his workers. And we passed this love and devotion to our communities onto our children…. My pleasure was to support him in all his projects. I feel fulfilled as a woman having been part of all his projects while we formed a beautiful family guided by the same principles of helping all of our people – the many wonderful women and men of our community. Much gratitude to my children for following in the footsteps of their father in support of our community. My blessings to all people.”

 Malu Crespo (President RCF Distributors)
Malu is one of the strongest women in produce, and I am excited that more and more retailers and industry peers are starting to discover what so many have known. When it comes to citrus and mangoes, there is no one more passionate and skilled to represent Mexico. I am in awe of the respect she is given by her peers in Mexico who know how hard she has worked on behalf of her family and country to expand citrus and mangoes further into US consumers’ hands.

I know she makes it look easier than it is. Her strength and intelligence is complemented by her gigantic heart. When you work for her, whether as a grower or a sales person or anyone, she cares about you and your well-being. She drives everyone to be their best and helps the entire El Grupo Crespo (Empaque Don Jorge, Crespo Organic and RCF Distributors) grow stronger and more sustainable for the many generations to come, including her son Luis Roberto. Her positivity helps dreams come to fruition.

Here are some of her words and story:

“Ser mujer en esta industria por general llena de hombres nunca sígnico un problema o una limitante para mi, al contrario porque me encanta lo hago desde chica, hacerlo con pasión y orgullo, fue donde nací y esto fue mi vida completa, aparte teníamos un gran ejemplo que fue mi padre quien con forma de ser, nos brindó la confianza en nosotros para salir adelante de cualquier situación, con la fe siempre en Dios y haciendo las cosas bien.

“Y al lado de él siempre una gran mujer mi madre, que cuidó siempre de él y a nosotros darnos la fuerza para seguir unidos mis hermanos y yo trabajando por una sola meta y un solo compromiso ‘trabajar haciendo las cosas con honestidad para el bien de todos nosotros y todas las familias que dependen de nuestro trabajo’. Orgullosa de ser mexicana 🇲🇽 sinaloense y viviendo aquí en USA me pone mucho orgullo en el corazón ver nuestros Mangos y Cítricos en las mesas de los consumidores, es cuando digo con satisfacción y dando gracias viendo al cielo… hemos logrado en equipo un buen trabajo….💓.”

“Being a woman in this industry, generally full of men, never felt like it was a problem or that it caused any limitations for me. On the contrary, I have always seen the opportunities. I have been in this business since I was a little girl, working with passion and pride. I was born into this business and have been since. I had a wonderful example of a great man, my father (RCF – Roberto Crespo Fitch). Who he was, his nature, gave me the confidence to get ahead of any situation, always with faith in God and doing things well. At his side, my mother, who is an amazing woman, who always took care of him and gave us the strength to continue together, my brothers and I working for a single goal and a single commitment, to work with honesty for the good of all of us, my family and all the families that depend on our work. I am proud to be Mexican, Sinaloan, and living here in the USA fills my heart with pride. To see our  Mexican mangoes and citrus on the tables of consumers is when I say with satisfaction and give thanks looking at the sky… Together, with good teamwork, we have achieved so much!”

Issis Rivera AKA “La Colectora” (Accounts Receivable)
Issis has what I consider the most difficult job of any organization. She collects the money! And she does so with the most gigantic smile and positive attitude I have ever seen. She rarely seems challenged by any task and is always grateful for any opportunity to advance the business. Her story reminds me of how capable women are when given the chance. She is incredibly funny and makes me wish I worked in the actual RCF office in Nogales!

 Here are some of her words and story:

“The story of my beginning working for RCF brings back fond memories for me. It was 2015, I was looking for a job after several years without working because I was taking care of my second baby doing mommy’s chores. I had to start sending job applications, but without success. That’s how I found Malu Crespo, who trusted me from the beginning and who opened the doors of his business to start in a work area that was not known to me, but accepted gladly and happily.

“I started working 4 hour days and struggling to get paid for my inexperience in dealing with customers. I decided to learn by taking several courses to improve my performance. It was mango season so it was easier to do my job because ‘who doesn’t like mangoes, right?’

The help from my coworkers was good. I was the second woman working in the office.

To this day I have a good job performance; I really like my job. I work full-time and I like that we are one big family at RCF. Every day is good to collect!”

Janie Hernandez AKA Rambo (Administration McAllen Distribution Center)
Janie works in the McAllen warehouse/office/distribution center. She is an integral part of the family having worked for RCF Distributors for almost 17 years and basically the first employee of the McAllen branch in a teenie office. She began working for the company when it was called El Rosario Produce, and she has been through all of the difficulties a company experiences as they grow and as a human in her own life as well.

She is most admired for her photographic memory. Her ability to capture and retain all information – whether it be memory, paper, or computer files for the company in all of the 17 years she’s been here is mind blowing amazing. She is happy that the McAllen warehouse is moving into a new bigger space with a bigger office!

Here are some of her words and story:

“My name is San Juanita aka Janie Hernandez. I will complete 17 years with RCF in May 2023… It has really been a great joy & experience to work with such a great company. I’d always worked for an accounting firm and RCF was one of our clients and they had an opening and I was offered a job without knowing anything (I mean ZERO) about produce. I took the risk and said, “Why not, it will be a different experience.” I didn’t even eat mangoes as I never liked them!  Now I’ve eaten more mangos than I have in my entire life…lol.

“When I started working here my boss at the time brought a mango in and told me, “Hey Janie, do you know what type of mango this is?” and I’m like, “Nope and I don’t eat mangos.” He said,  “It’s because you’ve never tried a crema (aka Crème d la crème). This is a Mexican mango from Sinaloa and hesitantly I said no it’s ok you can eat it…well he still cut up the mango and that was the first time I’d seen how a mango was cut. It looked like a flower….he said, “try it” and well me trying not to be rude took a piece. I figured I’ll throw it away when he turns his back, ha ha! That piece didn’t go to the trash. It went straight to my belly…and I wanted more. It was verrrrry juicy and good. It was an Ataulfo and ever since then that’s my favorite mango….

“I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer in March 2021 and I still kept up with my duties until my radiation treatments started in January 2022. I was out for a few months but I never lost sight of the things going on here at RCF… I love my job even though I don’t see it as a job because I really enjoy what I do, which is the clerical/accounting part of it… It’s like my boss Jose Angel says, “If you enjoy what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” That is very true. I wake up every morning looking forward to a new day. I’m known as Rambo here in the office because no matter how ill I feel I always give that extra of myself because, like I said before, I love what I do and I see RCF as my family because we are a Team… They’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, and I am very grateful for that.”

Kareli Beltran (RCF Distributors Manifest Data Specialist)
Kareli works remotely from her home in Rosario, Sinaloa, Mexico. She is in charge of all data input for every manifest that crosses the border and moves into RCF Distributors. This means the full gamut of products. For mangoes, it means the RCF and Mango Fresh conventional mangoes, Crespo Organic Mangoes, and the Mango King & Mango Queen specialty mango brands. Stacked upon the mango work is also the RCF Mexican citrus program, so truckloads of oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and more.

Her job is one of ultimate precision and, without her accurate work and her amazing attention to detail, our gigantic systems of product movement would fail completely. Jobs like hers are often overlooked but are essential to any success.

Here are some of her words and story:

“Mi nombre es Kareli Beltran. Estando en esta empresa laborando, como mujer me he sentido muy segura, tranquila, entusiasmada por todo el logro que he obtenido al pasar de los años. Iniciando como encargada de embarques y ahora actualmente como administradora de cargas para las bodegas de McAllen y Nogales. Desempeñando esta gran labor todos los días ….

“Agradecida con la oportunidad que me han dado en esta empresa de crecer en el ámbito tanto como  emocional ya que siento esa igualdad y fuerza para salir adelante ante cualquier situación. Yo como mujer le sugiero a cualquier otra que no se pongan barreras que siempre busquen soluciones para llegar a la cima del éxito.”

“Working for this company comes with good success for a woman. I feel very confident,  appreciative and enthusiastic about all the achievements that I have obtained over the years. I am responsible for entering the manifests and information for every single load for the McAllen and Nogales distribution centers. I do this great job with joy every single day.

 “I am grateful for the opportunity that this company has given me to grow both professionally and emotionally. With that I feel that equality and strength to get ahead in any situation.

I, as a woman, suggest to other women that they do not put up barriers. Always look for solutions to reach the top of success.”

Valeria Garza (Crespo Organic & RCF Marketing)
Valeria lives and works in McAllen, Texas. She is a young and bright addition to our marketing team. She came in without a lot of specific mango knowledge and has managed to capture the heart and essence of the El Grupo/RCF organization with speed and ease. She is incredibly passionate, like all the women on the team, and is eager to learn and help spread the world about this family that not only are mango experts but people that care about their communities and workers. She has wicked technology skills like you’d expect from youth and a youth vigor that is needed in this tough and fast-paced industry!

Here are some of her words and story:

 “Women have been fighting for rights and to be heard since July 1848 which was the first attempt to organize a national movement for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York. We have come far in the society and generation we live in today. As women we are able to express ourselves a little more freely than before, but we still have to be careful with what we say because it can trigger men. In my opinion, inequity has been going on for years. The fact that women have to be careful with what they say or do, women being at the top in a corporate job and being ignored, the fact women have the same job position as men but get paid less is insane. What can be done to stop inequity? Becoming more inclusive, compensating, and respecting women and men equally. Will it be hard to do, yes, because we live in a male dominant world but women will not go down without a fight.

“I am very lucky to surround myself and work with women that have the power to speak up for themselves and stand up for what they believe in. I am most fortunate to work with Nissa Pierson, she is the definition of an Unstoppable Woman Leader. I met Nissa in Orlando 2022 at the PMA. She told me she had a job opening for me. Well flashforward to today, I did take the job offer and it’s probably the best decision I ever made. Since the moment I met her she has inspired me. She is outgoing, she speaks her mind and is not afraid of what others think of her. She is kind, brave, incredibly smart, hard-working and she is true to herself. Working alongside her and speaking to her on the daily is a blessing. She has taught me about the Crespo Brand and most importantly has taught me that staying true to oneself is important.

“Crespo Organic and RCF have a long trail of Unstoppable Women Leaders from the matriarch Maluz and her daughter Malu, to the women in the orchards, to the women in the warehouses, and to the customers and supportive roles too. I encourage all women to speak up for themselves, stay true to themselves, and keep fighting for what you believe in.

#ChefSvea Svea Pierson (Kids Recipe Creator & Crespo Organic Art Maker)

Svea is my niece but she came to work freelance for the Crespo Organic marketing team by way of watching me contribute my passions for food to the greater good. She is an incredibly talented cook since a very young age and an enthusiastic creative recipe maker and has developed 100% all of our kid’s centric mango recipes. She started making recipes for me (paid in passion ☺) when she was about 8 years old and doing some artwork for various projects. Along with Svea’s culinary talents from a young age, she is a very talented artist like her parents are. These days she’s busy in college doing track and living the life of a 20-year-old woman. She’s not making mango recipes, but she is contributing her artwork for our many different endeavors like our specialty mango line and our new Crespo Organic Dried Ataulfo Mango con Chili Y Limón. These days she’s getting paid for it.

Here are some of her words and story:

“The pilgrimage of being a woman in this world has been one of self-discovery for me. In our society of conflicting opinions on what role we are supposed to play, harnessing that divine power we are born with and expressing it to the fullest extent has gotten me much farther than being complacent with fear of judgment. Understand and value your strengths. Be yourself, and seek that self constantly. Our liberation comes from appreciation of what’s inside and asking how you can share that with the world.”

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