Jesse III takes his spot in ag family business
The third generation to work in the business started by his grandfather, Jesse Alderete III has joined his father; brother, Ron; and sister, Sabrina, in managing Premium Packing Inc. in Salinas.
Beginning in the 1950s as a labor contractor in Oregon, Alderete' grandfather branched out to Arizona and California. When he started his family, the first Jesse Alderete decided it was time to put down roots, so he settled in Salinas.
With locations throughout California, the family has divided Premium Packing's managerial responsibilities. While Ron is responsible for the Oxnard and Coachella operations, Jesse handles the Stockton and Sacramento areas and helps his sister, who is the Salinas office's administrative manager.
Because he had worked in the business during his summers as a high school and college student, Jesse Alderete III said, going full time was an easy transition.
With a smile, he said the only thing he really had to get used to was the inability to sleep in the way he could when he was a student.
"The early mornings making sure the crews are all in place took a little bit of discipline," he said. "Working on a daily basis with family can also sometimes make life interesting."
Besides supplying contract orchard and field labor, Premium also provides workers for packing facilities. Alderete said his responsibilities extend to overseeing some of these packing operations.
As Central Coast field operations wind down for the year, Alderete will enjoy a brief respite before he has to move to the Stockton area in early February to gear up for asparagus season.
Thatâ€™s not uncommon for someone in the ag harvesting business, and Alderete thinks of his year in terms of vegetable and fruit seasons.
"There's the asparagus season, followed by blueberries, cherries, pears and apples," he said. "I manage about 1,000 people who harvest these crops."
Addressing the Central Coast farm labor shortage, Alderete said his family has seen it coming for awhile.
"Where once we had groups of people showing up for work, now we are lucky to see a couple of individuals," he said. "We are lucky in that we have a core of people to call upon."
With stricter government immigration regulations and laws, Alderete said he believes the shortage will become more severe. He sees one crop needing harvest, such as grapes, drawing the existing work force away from another crop, such as apples.
The key to overcoming the challenges is not only paying better than the next guy, but also keeping employees in steady work, he said.
Although he has to divide his time between the Central Coast and the inland valley, Alderete said he's happy when it's time to take up residence in his Prunedale house.
"This is home, and I'm always glad to get back to the coastal climate," he said.
By ROBERT WALCH, The Salinas Californian
Key Points of Article:
- FLCA wants to bring integrity back to the farm labor industry.
- Labor chief wants to work employers and employees.
- Eight hours of education is required for FLC license.