Many of the orchards in Chelan valley are a family affair, with women playing a critical role in running smooth operations and growing the business. In our blog series “Women in Agriculture” we sit down with them to discuss their roles and thoughts on the industry.
This month we checked in with Yesenia Cervantes at Borton Fruit in Yakima Washington.
CF: Hi Yesenia, thank you for speaking with us today.
YC: You are welcome, glad to help.
CF: Please tell us what your job duties are at Borton Fruit?
YC: I am a line supervisor at the warehouse in Yakima. That means that I make sure we are processing the fruit accordingly to our quality and packing standards. I also supervise 95-100 employees in the warehouse.
CF: Does that mean that you spend most of your day walking the warehouse floor?
YC: Not always, I also do quite a but of work at my computer during the day as well, there is a lot to process in this job and it keeps me busy.
CF: How long have you been with Borton Fruit?
YC: 28 years total!
CF: Wow, you must love your job!
YC: I do love it. I started as a fruit packer when I was 15, it was supposed to be temporary over a holiday break but I ended up staying. I have also worked on the stamper, moved up to assistant supervisor before becoming a supervisor myself. I have been in this position for 20 years now.
CF: So you have worked for Borton Fruit your entire working life. That’s incredible! Did you grow up around the fruit industry as well?
YC: Yes. I was born and raised in Yakima, my mom was an apple picker and would take me with her to work so I have been around orchards all my life. Eventually she started working at Borton Fruit which is how I got my first packing job at 15 years old.
CF: What kind of changes have you seen in the industry during your time there?
YC: I have seen lots of of changes over time. In just the warehouse alone we have had four different computer systems over the years. Technology is changing all the time and we continue to upgrade which means implementing and re-learning new systems. But, the one thing that has remained consistent is the quality of our fruit and our processing standards.
CF: What is your favorite part of the job?
YC: For 28 years every day has been different! Being a supervisor is not the kind of job where you clock in and do the same thing over and over. I love the variety that every day brings. And I am busy so my days go fast.
CF: What are the biggest challenges of the job?
YC: The biggest challenge is keeping 100 employees motivated. There are times when people can get frustrated or unhappy, my job is to keep everything running smoothly and everyone happy so they love their jobs too.
CF: As a working woman, what is your secret for balancing work and home life?
YC: I raised two sons while working here, they are both in their 20s now and one is working here at Borton as well. My secret is to leave your work problems at work and your home problems at home, and don’t mix them!
CF: Wise advice! In your opinion, where do you feel the industry is headed in the future?
YC: I see the industry growing bigger, and with technology advancing the way it is, the warehouses will continue to get more advanced as well.
CF: Thank you for your time and enjoy the spring weather!