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Each month, the Fresh Produce & Floral Council profiles a different member and a different retailer.  Check back to learn more about the professionals in the produce and floral industry and the members of the FPFC. 

See Previous Member Profiles

 

MEMBER PROFILE

Dan McGrath, Category Specialist
Robinson Fresh

Whether it’s family or his career in the produce industry, one can definitely say that Dan McGrath, category specialist for Robinson Fresh, has stuck to his roots.  From his early childhood reared on the “family homestead” through his rise in the produce industry, McGrath has also found time to involve himself with some exciting, unique and charitable endeavors.

McGrath’s “roots” in the produce industry started at an early age growing up on Oxnard’s RH McGrath Ranch, which included 500 acres of row crops.  In fact, the McGrath family was one of many families of Irish and German descent who helped “build the city of Oxnard.”  His great-great grandfather from Ireland accumulated a lot of land over the years, and his philanthropic great uncle got the family involved in local charitable deeds.

As for Dan’s foray into produce, he said, “I worked on the ranch as a kid pulling weeds, planting lima beans, walking bean rows and driving a tractor.”  He was paid a whopping $1.25 per hour for his efforts.

Although the produce industry was in his blood, McGrath’s road to it took a slight detour when he attended Ventura City College.  “I decided that I wanted to become a police officer,” McGrath said.  He majored in Criminology and Administration of Justice and after graduating had inclinations of joining the Marines.

It was at this point in his life, he met his future wife, Phyllis, and decided he would choose produce over a career in law enforcement.  “I hooked up with a couple of Greek guys who were purveyors for restaurants. I was doing sales and the company books.” 

Afterward, McGrath formed his own company, but after a year and with a new child on the way, he decided, “I had to get serious.”  He sold his list of clients to a competitor, and in 1998 hooked up with Fresh Directions International.  In the ensuing two decades before joining Robinson Fresh (a division of C.H. Robinson that specializes in fresh produce and temperature controlled supply chain activities) in December 2015, he also worked with Mission Produce and Freska Produce International.

As for his work at Robinson Fresh, McGrath said, “I couldn’t be prouder to work for an organization that is engaging, forward-thinking, problem-solving and customer-service oriented.  When you believe in and enjoy something you do, talking about it is the easiest thing to do.”

Dan’s job as a parent got him (and eventually the rest of the family) into the world of martial arts.  “My daughter Mina decided to get involved with Tae Kwon Do.   I signed her up and then stayed for her many classes.” 

Soon, the Tae Kwon Do instructors noticed that McGrath himself was increasingly interested in joining, so they made him a deal he “didn’t dare refuse.”

His two sons (Christian and Dominick) and Phyllis soon joined Dan and Mina in the class.   Before you knew it, the entire family was breaking boards, and after three years they had all received their black belts.  Two knee surgeries forced McGrath to give up Tae Kwon Do, but he still dabbles in the martial arts with Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces.

Growing up on a ranch, it makes perfect sense that McGrath is very adept when it comes to horsemanship.  He and his best friend, Jackson, who also happens to be his horse, participate in trail riding, team penning and sorting.  Team penning is a timed event where the horseman must separate a herd of cattle on one side of an arena and herd them into separate pens on the other side.

McGrath said, “Cows have a way of making the smartest cowboy look very dumb.  It takes an athletic horse and a good cowboy to get them in the correct pens.”  He modestly acknowledges that he has won some awards for team penning.

The phrase “Charity begins at home” takes on dual meaning for the McGrath clan.  “Our family is very involved with a number of charities and charitable events.”  One of these events is on St. Patrick’s Day where the family hosts the McGrath Wearin’ O’ the Green Golf Tournament that helps to raise money for CAREGIVERS.

CAREGIVERS is an organization that tends to the needs of homebound elders.  In Ventura County, these volunteers do everything from running errands to cleaning homes to providing transportation to people who are unable to do so themselves.   “We utilize high school students who will receive community service credit for their efforts.”

The McGrath family, as it does each year, will also participate in the Ventura St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  It should be noted that in 2013 the McGrath family were the grand marshals of this parade.  This year, McGrath said, his cousin (“Irish Dan”) will be here from Ireland for the parade and will present the city with a gift of Waterford crystal.   Whether or not McGrath will don his kilt remains to be seen.

McGrath is also very active in his local church, Our Lady of the Assumption, and has served as president of the Pastoral Council and now sits on the Financial Council

As mentioned, the clan McGrath family roots run deep.  Dan said, “Hundreds of McGraths recently descended upon the village of Dungarven, Ireland.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend that one.”  He added that he plans to be at the event planned for 2019, and he expects there to be nearly 1,000 McGraths on hand for that one.

The village had better start stocking up on Guinness now, and with his proficiency in Tae kwon do, it won’t take long for McGrath to be at the head of that line.

Whether it’s family or his career in the produce industry, one can definitely say that Dan McGrath, category specialist for Robinson Fresh, has stuck to his roots.  From his early childhood reared on the “family homestead” through his rise in the produce industry, McGrath has also found time to involve himself with some exciting, unique and charitable endeavors.

McGrath’s “roots” in the produce industry started at an early age growing up on Oxnard’s RH McGrath Ranch, which included 500 acres of row crops.  In fact, the McGrath family was one of many families of Irish and German descent who helped “build the city of Oxnard.”  His great-great grandfather from Ireland accumulated a lot of land over the years, and his philanthropic great uncle got the family involved in local charitable deeds.

As for Dan’s foray into produce, he said, “I worked on the ranch as a kid pulling weeds, planting lima beans, walking bean rows and driving a tractor.”  He was paid a whopping $1.25 per hour for his efforts.

Although the produce industry was in his blood, McGrath’s road to it took a slight detour when he attended Ventura City College.  “I decided that I wanted to become a police officer,” McGrath said.  He majored in Criminology and Administration of Justice and after graduating had inclinations of joining the Marines.

It was at this point in his life, he met his future wife, Phyllis, and decided he would choose produce over a career in law enforcement.  “I hooked up with a couple of Greek guys who were purveyors for restaurants. I was doing sales and the company books.” 

Afterward, McGrath formed his own company, but after a year and with a new child on the way, he decided, “I had to get serious.”  He sold his list of clients to a competitor, and in 1998 hooked up with Fresh Directions International.  In the ensuing two decades before joining Robinson Fresh (a division of C.H. Robinson that specializes in fresh produce and temperature controlled supply chain activities) in December 2015, he also worked with Mission Produce and Freska Produce International.

As for his work at Robinson Fresh, McGrath said, “I couldn’t be prouder to work for an organization that is engaging, forward-thinking, problem-solving and customer-service oriented.  When you believe in and enjoy something you do, talking about it is the easiest thing to do.”

Dan’s job as a parent got him (and eventually the rest of the family) into the world of martial arts.  “My daughter Mina decided to get involved with Tae Kwon Do.   I signed her up and then stayed for her many classes.” 

Soon, the Tae Kwon Do instructors noticed that McGrath himself was increasingly interested in joining, so they made him a deal he “didn’t dare refuse.”

His two sons (Christian and Dominick) and Phyllis soon joined Dan and Mina in the class.   Before you knew it, the entire family was breaking boards, and after three years they had all received their black belts.  Two knee surgeries forced McGrath to give up Tae Kwon Do, but he still dabbles in the martial arts with Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces.

Growing up on a ranch, it makes perfect sense that McGrath is very adept when it comes to horsemanship.  He and his best friend, Jackson, who also happens to be his horse, participate in trail riding, team penning and sorting.  Team penning is a timed event where the horseman must separate a herd of cattle on one side of an arena and herd them into separate pens on the other side.

McGrath said, “Cows have a way of making the smartest cowboy look very dumb.  It takes an athletic horse and a good cowboy to get them in the correct pens.”  He modestly acknowledges that he has won some awards for team penning.

The phrase “Charity begins at home” takes on dual meaning for the McGrath clan.  “Our family is very involved with a number of charities and charitable events.”  One of these events is on St. Patrick’s Day where the family hosts the McGrath Wearin’ O’ the Green Golf Tournament that helps to raise money for CAREGIVERS.

CAREGIVERS is an organization that tends to the needs of homebound elders.  In Ventura County, these volunteers do everything from running errands to cleaning homes to providing transportation to people who are unable to do so themselves.   “We utilize high school students who will receive community service credit for their efforts.”

The McGrath family, as it does each year, will also participate in the Ventura St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  It should be noted that in 2013 the McGrath family were the grand marshals of this parade.  This year, McGrath said, his cousin (“Irish Dan”) will be here from Ireland for the parade and will present the city with a gift of Waterford crystal.   Whether or not McGrath will don his kilt remains to be seen.

McGrath is also very active in his local church, Our Lady of the Assumption, and has served as president of the Pastoral Council and now sits on the Financial Council

As mentioned, the clan McGrath family roots run deep.  Dan said, “Hundreds of McGraths recently descended upon the village of Dungarven, Ireland.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend that one.”  He added that he plans to be at the event planned for 2019, and he expects there to be nearly 1,000 McGraths on hand for that one.

The village had better start stocking up on Guinness now, and with his proficiency in Tae kwon do, it won’t take long for McGrath to be at the head of that line.

 

 

 

 

MEMBER PROFILE

Emily Fragoso, Senior Recruiter
MIXTEC Group

 

Combining an energetic, outgoing and positive attitude along with a drive to always improve, the MIXTEC Group’s Emily Fragoso has made her mark in the produce industry at a relatively young age.   All of those traits might very well have been inherited from her parents.

 “My mom was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana.  My dad grew up in Thailand,” Emily said.  “My mother was an artist at an early age, and in her late 20s, she started to lose her eyesight, and over the years became totally blind.”

Showing a positive attitude, that fact did not deter Emily’s mother from receiving an advanced degree in California, becoming a rehabilitation counselor. As for her exuberant personality, Emily traces that that to her father’s outgoing style.

As for her success in the produce industry, that can be attributed to her tenacious desire to always search for new avenues that can better enhance her career.

After attending La Serna High School in Whittier, Emily enrolled at Cal State Fullerton.  Always “communication oriented,” she majored in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.

One day, a note on the college bulletin board would send Emily into the produce industry.  The Fresh Produce & Floral Council had a job opening.

While in college, she worked in a non-profit certification program through Cal Sate Fullerton.  “When I came to the interview at the FPFC, I was able to show them a portfolio of projects I had worked on in Brea in conjunction with that program. I had participated with mommy groups, helped on coordinating mayoral breakfasts, worked with committees and knew how to take minutes at those meetings.”

That experience paid off.  She was interviewed by FPFC president Linda Stine, and later that afternoon Emily was offered a job with what she thought was “one of the longest job titles ever:  Director Of Member Relations and Event Coordinator.”

While working for six years at the FPFC, Emily returned to Cal State Fullerton and received her masters.   “I wanted to prepare myself for the future.”  That wasn’t all she was doing in her spare time. 

Calling herself a “music junkie” and “NPR nerd,” Emily was an avid listener to KCRW’s music.  However, she felt the station needed a void filled when it came to talk shows, so she asked the manager if she could host a talk show dealing with local issues.  Emily interviewed community leaders and delved into stories about places of interest to her audience--sort of the Huell Howser of local public radio.  She also tried her hand at improvisational comedy at the South Coast Repertory, and has been a member of Toastmasters for years, to continue her quest for self-improvement.

Emily said her six years at the FPFC “afforded me so many opportunities and the chance to meet many friends and mentors who have guided my career.”

Determined to “expand her skill set,” Emily moved on to be the marketing director for Coast Produce Company.  “It was a fantastic chance for me to work with a premier wholesaler in Los Angeles that helped increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.”

It was here that her motto of “Yes, I can” further developed.  “If I was asked to do something, I was always willing to say ‘yes’.”

She developed a friendship with the Coast president at the time, Jin Ju Wilder, and when Wilder opened her own consulting firm, Status-Gr0, Fragoso went to work with her.   “I have always admired Jin Ju as a leader,” Emily said, “and it was a great experience working with her for those three years.”

In 2013, the MIXTEC Group, an executive recruiting firm that specializes in produce, hired Fragoso.  She said this job has further expanded her knowledge of the produce industry.

Somehow, in between work and all those extra-curricular activities, Emily found time to marry Damian, a lawyer who specializes in working for those with special education needs.

Emily and Damian have a little girl, Hazel, who recently turned three, and in April the Fragoso family will have another addition.   Of course, with her busy schedule, Emily will have to fit in time for the birth between MIXTEC, Toastmasters and a 5K run.