Member Profile – Dave Cruz

Dave Cruz

Business Development Director
California Avocado Commission

In the truest sense of the phrase, Dave Cruz is a jack of all trades.

When discussing his work at the California Avocado Commission, he talks about many different areas in which he plays a role including as a conduit between the avocado shippers and CAC’s promotional and merchandising efforts, be they foodservice or retail. He often is called on to handle data questions. At CAC events, he is the IT guy making sure the presentations link the words with the PowerPoint and computer images. He also is the group’s photographer when the need arises. Recently, as CAC has once again started dipping its toe in the export market, Cruz is assisting in that endeavor. He has been with CAC for 28 years, so he has been present at the launch of virtually every program, and is a constant representative for the group at FPFC events.

Turning to his non-work life, he mentions several areas in which he has more than just a passing interest including traveling, mountain biking, golfing and bowling. “I have a pretty rare double,” he admits. “I have a hole-in-one and I have bowled a 300 game. I don’t think a lot of people can say that.”

Dave’s parents were born in the Philippines and came to the United States as skilled employees—his mother a nurse and his father a chemical engineer. Dave was born in Chicago and spent his first eight years in the Midwest. In 1981, the family moved to California.

Dave grew up in Orange County, near the South Coast Plaza, attending Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. He started his college career at Cal Poly Pomona but a bad car accident derailed that effort and he soon found a temporary job at the California Avocdo Commission while he was taking classes at the local junior college. Through the ‘90s, he worked at the commission in a number of roles, often on a part-time basis, as he pursued other interests, including accounting for a short time. Near the turn of the century, Dave became a full-time CAC employee and has remained there ever since.

Early in his career, he considered himself a pretty darn good assistant, involved in a variety of CAC tasks. “I had the ability to get the job done. People would tell me what they needed done, and I’d figure out a way to do it.”

He said in those days, he wasn’t the greatest at planning; execution was his forte. Over the years, Dave’s role has evolved at CAC. He credits Vice President of Marketing Jan DeLyser’s leadership and coaching for helping him to grow into his current position and to take on more industry involvement, as well. For example, he has served on committees for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council and also has served as a Career Ambassador for PMA’s Career Pathways Program.

“I love what I do and I love the produce industry,” he says. “The people in this industry are great. I love the passion everyone has.”

As mentioned earlier, Dave’s passions are multi-faceted. That drive out to California when he was eight years has led to a lifetime of family travel. That year, the family—Dave; his parents, Chris and Venus; and his brother, Vince, who is five years younger than Dave—took the opportunity to make a vacation of it and visited several national parks between Chicago and Los Angeles. 

Since then, the four of them have taken many, many trips, both big and small. Besides visiting many other U.S. national parks and cities, they have ventured outside the country with a couple of trips to the Philippines, another to Egypt and Jordan, as well as vacations to Cambodia, Thailand and India, which Dave describes as “totally sweet.” On the yet-to-do list are the Northern Lights of Scandinavia, Greece, Italy and China. “My dad does all the planning and when we go, I do all the driving,” he said.

Mountain biking and golf are two pursuits Dave enjoyed in the past and was clearly proficient enough at golf to hit a hole-in-one. Bowling is a longtime passion that checks several enjoyable boxes: socializing with friends, good competition and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…a trip to Las Vegas during the bowling season.

Dave has been in a “Las Vegas” bowling league for the past 25 years, which merely means it includes a trip to Vegas where a week-long competition is held each season. His first 300 game came in 2010 followed by a second in 2015. Dave admits that for the first one, he had been drinking a bit, but the second one came cold sober. He’s not sure which one was the more difficult. He’s also had two other games in the 290s, which means 11 strikes and one spare.

“It’s quite an experience to bowl a 300 game,” he said. “As you get further in the game, people start gathering around to watch and when you get to the 10th frame and have to throw three more strikes, everyone is cheering. It’s totally sweet.”