BLOGPeople Behind the Produce Series: Meet Carlos Valencia, Making Things Run Behind the Scenes

Greenhouse fresh water tanksEvery individual involved in agriculture plays a vital part in bringing food to our tables. National Farmworker Awareness Week is a crucial time to highlight the contributions of all individuals involved in farming, including those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that all aspects of an operation are functioning smoothly and efficiently. This is the story of one of those individuals.

Meet Carlos Valencia.

Carlos Valencia is a maintenance supervisor at Wholesum Farms Arizona, a very esteemed figure among his peers; knowledgeable, respectful and always with a disposition to excel. When it comes to maintenance work, he knows it all… and what he doesn’t, he figures out.

Carlos grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico where one of his earliest jobs was to manage a pizzeria. With a laugh he says, “I can’t believe I used to pay people to come to my shop and change out an electrical outlet. I can do that with my eyes closed!”

Carlos began his career at Wholesum in January of 2019 as a tomato greenhouse crop worker. It was during that time that his current manager, Javier was working on a construction project for a freshwater tank that would be used for crop irrigation. Carlos took a genuine interest in the project and out of his own will, volunteered to participate. While working on this project, Carlos stood out as a diligent team member and a fast learner. In the summer of 2019, when construction began for Wholesum Farms Arizona’s fourth greenhouse, he went all in. He had found his calling!

Members of Fair Trade Committee
Carlos stands alongside other Fair Trade Committee members

At Wholesum, we talk about our values often and Carlos is a true representation of our value of “People on the Move.” This is a value that focuses on the growth and development of our people. In 2020, merely one year after he started working at the company, he was elected to be a part of First Fair USA, Wholesum’s fair trade committee in Arizona. It is rare for someone who has been at the company for merely one year to be nominated and elected for a position, but also very telling of how he is perceived by his peers. Those elected are trusted by their coworkers and seen as someone who could represent their voice when determining new projects that address their collective needs. Aside from taking on this responsibility, he also experienced growth within his department. By the end of 2020, he was promoted to team lead. Today, five years into his career at Wholesum, he is a maintenance supervisor, overseeing a team of nine.

While his relentless work ethic and ability to move up in ranks has been astounding, what truly sets Carlos apart is his vision. Others see the greenhouse as a place to grow crops, but for Carlos, it as a hub of innovation and sustainability. His ideas are bold and ambitious, but nothing that isn’t worth the try.

With a passion for environmental stewardship and a visionary approach to problem-solving, Carlos is spearheading a groundbreaking initiative; converting our electric trolleys into solar powered machines! Recognizing the potential of solar energy to revolutionize our trolley system, he began this passion project by researching, brainstorming solutions, and sourcing sustainable materials. Today, with the project underway, four trolleys have been retrofitted with a solar panel system and are undergoing testing.  The potential of this project is massive – not just in terms of sustainability but also in terms of long-term cost savings and operational efficiency. Nobody asked him to do this, but he’s making it happen!

Trolley in a greenhouse
Solar-powered trolley

Carlos’ impact at Wholesum is undeniable. Beyond his work ethic and contributions, he sets a good example for those around him. That is why he cannot go unnoticed as we spotlight the People Behind the Produce!