Index Fresh's Debbie Willmann Celebrates 30 Years
RIVERSIDE, CA - When Debbie Willmann stepped onto the fresh produce scene, little did she know that she would go on to celebrate 30 years at avocado powerhouse Index Fresh. Looking back on her advancement to Director of Sales, Willmann shares how she became such an integral member of the operation.
“The company and the industry are constantly growing and changing, and there’s no room to be bored. You’re always going to learn and grow. Even after 30 years, there’s nothing stale about this. I would have never imagined this as a child or even a young adult—it has been incredible!” Willmann noted.
Throughout her tenure with Index Fresh, Willmann learned the ropes of various aspects of the business. However, her calling soon projected her to the sales department.
“Selling produce was not on my radar when I started, even though it’s so big in California. I fell into the right place at the right time because I worked so hard and the industry grew so fast; I was allowed to grow at the same time as the company,” she remarked. “I was really shy, but you can’t be shy in this business. I blossomed tremendously and got comfortable with people and the business. I dug in and embraced it fully. It’s been up and up ever since.”
In a press release, Todd Elder, VP of Sales and Marketing, explained his enthusiasm to have Willmann on his team.
“Debbie is committed to excellence every step of the way. She brings her vast knowledge, garnered from all departments, as she helps clients and colleagues looking for support or mentorship. Her tenacity to get the job done—whatever it takes—makes Debbie exceptional and an integral part of our team,” he said.
Willmann added, “I’m highly competitive. I want to know everything about all parts of this business. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in sales, production, preconditioning, transportation, and all avenues of the business, which I think makes me a stronger salesperson and team member. I enjoy the fast-paced nature of the business. It suits my personality.”
Her passion and can-do attitude can be seen in all aspects of her work.
“I don’t do anything halfway once I commit,” she said. This commitment can be seen as what has shaped her successes in the industry.
“Debbie’s commitment for Index Fresh and the avocado industry is infectious and has a huge impact on the organization,” said Steve Roodzant, President and CEO of Index Fresh.
Various industry members also commented on their relationship with Willmann.
“Debbie’s honesty is something I really value. She will always tell me how it is,” said DeeAnn Ritzmann, Freshpoint Denver. “Over the years, time and time again, she fills my order regardless of market conditions and availability.”
Tim Duerstock, Procurement Manager for Caito Foods, says that Willmann’s attention to detail, industry knowledge, and overall performance has set a high bar for suppliers to strive for.
“You can’t do the job any better than what Debbie does. I thought I knew avocados until I started working with Debbie. I consider her a business partner, teacher, and most of all, a friend,” he said.
Tony Melkonian, CEO of TM Summit, also remarked on Willmann’s strong insight on the market, her availability, and consistent support.
Congratulations to Debbie on this huge accomplishment!