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United We Stand: A Q&A With Patrick Lucy, President, Del Rey Avocado

United We Stand: A Q&A With Patrick Lucy, President, Del Rey Avocado

"Divide and conquer."

Once used as a military tactic to divide the enemy and create dissent, making it easier for the fighters to conquer a split group, modern times have taken a twist to this old adage. The fighting army can now be thought of as a dynamic group or organization—and that’s where my interest is piqued.

In today’s more positive rendition, a group splits tasks that play to their strengths, thereby reaching a common goal. Irrespective of the phrase’s original military meaning, building the bigger picture can be more easily attainable if it’s done in parts—much like how a business is run. One section focuses on sales, the other on research and development, and another on growing produce.

Leadership works in very much the same way, so why not have multiple leaders take the reins?

In February 2022, the Del Rey Avocado leadership team passed the torch to the next generation, leaving room for Patrick Lucy, Donny Lucy, and Jessica Hunter to shape the company for new heights. And what better way to learn about the inner workings than from one of the generals themselves, Patrick Lucy?

Lilian Diep: Patrick, you had been with the company for 18 years before ultimately becoming President. How has the transition been, and what does your role look like now?

Patrick Lucy, President, Del Rey Avocado: The nice thing about being partners with Jessica, daughter of previous Owner Bob Siemer, and my brother Donny is that we’re all children of agriculture—we understand how it works. We all own the company now, and we each focus on different parts while keeping the others informed.

Donny and I have a background in sales, and Jessica was a California Field Rep. Now that I’m President, Jessica is Chief Executive Officer, and Donny is Vice President, we’re able to divvy up responsibilities, keep each other accountable, and continue doing the jobs we started with. We all felt it was important to still be involved in the day-to-day operations of selling and purchasing fruit and be involved with every section, so we aren’t disconnected from our customers, growers, and employees.

LD: It’s been a little over a year since you took on the role of President; I want to know how it began. Have you always been in produce?

PL: I actually didn’t start working at Del Rey Avocado until the summer of 2005. My father, Bob Lucy, always liked being in the industry. I had just finished playing baseball and was unsure of what to do next, so I was interested in joining. However, the company wasn’t in need of a salesperson at the time. I decided to gain some sales experience in the meantime to ensure it was something I really wanted to do. I had a brief stint in the medical field doing sales, and after about eight months, a position at Del Rey opened. By then, I felt ready, and I have been here ever since.

"The nice thing about being partners with Jessica [Hunter], daughter of previous Owner Bob Siemer, and my brother Donny is that we’re all children of agriculture—we understand how it works."

Patrick Lucy, President, Del Rey Avocado

LD: Growing up, I imagine you had an inside look before joining, so what drew you in? What made Del Rey enticing for you?

PL: One of the unique things about Del Rey Avocado is that we understand the struggles growers go through and consistently keep that in mind. We are a packer and importer of avocados, but we are also growers. This is a huge benefit because we are aware and can roll with the punches Mother Nature or the supply chain throws at us.

LD: I see that you’re comfortable with your new title. So, with the year nearly halfway over, what can we expect from the team as 2023 continues to build out?

PL: For the first time ever, the industry is in the process of moving 3 billion pounds of avocados through the system, creating some great opportunities for retailers to get creative and aggressive on prices. We expect a very good supply of avocados to carry us all the way through summer.

With all the rain we received earlier this year, our early-season harvest was really limited. That being said, it will most likely push the California crop into August and early September in a down year in volume for growers. We can also look forward to a condensed California harvest, which will make volumes feel larger than they are.

We can also look forward to new packaging for our California avocados and strong partnerships, such as our collaboration with the San Diego Padres as their Official Avocado Supplier for the 2023 Major League Baseball season.

Trust and accountability are some of the key fundamentals for a strong team. A well-thought-out battle plan can be drawn up by strong tacticians, but it can only be executed by those well-versed in the field. As Del Rey Avocado is poised for growth, the grower and packer is positioned to conquer any challenge that comes its way.