Westlake Produce Company: Irwindale, CA
Years in Produce:
Married; Two children
Hobbies: Golf; family hikes
Motto in life: Be served by serving others.
Work History: Le Cheminant is known as a leader in his company and the industry, playing a critical role at Westlake not only driving the business forward but also supporting newer staff members. He began with Westlake in 2007, working as a sales assistant in a job that included inventory control and logistics. After three years, he moved into sales and began to manage his own customer accounts. His job also included logistics, and he was responsible for Northwest transportation. Le Cheminant began participating with the Fresh Produce and Floral Council (FPFC) in meetings and industry events. In his sixth year at Westlake, he was selected to the FPFC Apprentice Program. In 2013, he was promoted to sales account manager and is now responsible for customer development. He is part of the current United Fresh Leadership Program.
Questions & Answers:
Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?
I began working in the produce industry with a family member. I was attracted to this industry because it is fast-paced and dynamic.
Q: Do you consider yourself a Gen X-er or Millennial?
I would consider myself a Gen X-er in spirit, although I am on the dividing line. I believe this is because of my wanting to care for my family’s aging Baby Boomers.
Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?
To this point, I am most proud of being in the United Fresh Leadership Class 23.
Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?
I would like to see our industry take more responsibility for teaching the younger generation.
Q: What was the “aha” moment when you knew produce was the industry for you?
I knew after attending my first FPFC industry event that this business was for me. I saw how important relationships were and how much fun we could have.
Q: What are some of the more challenging aspects of a career in produce today?
I feel the most challenging aspect of the industry today is a viable labor force to harvest our crops and see them through the supply chain.
Q: What is the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?
The “hot button” that will be at the forefront of discussion over the next 10 years is going to be labor and a farmer-friendly guest worker program.
Q: How have you changed in your tenure?
My 10 years in the produce industry has made me better professionally and in my own personal life. I have learned to build and strengthen my relationships. I have also learned that our integrity and our word are our most valuable assets.