Employee Spotlight: Arturo Canales

At Gills Onions, we know that our employees are essential to our success. One of our star team members is Arturo Canales, who expertly mans the helm of our Food Safety & Quality Assurance (FSQA) program. Ensuring Gills Onions’ high food safety standards is no easy feat, so we sat down with Arturo to chat about his time in the FSQA department.

Engineering Mindset Meets Food Safety

Arturo’s path to agriculture wasn’t always straightforward. In fact, his interest was initially triggered while attending the University of California, Davis for chemical engineering. After taking classes in winemaking and coffee production, his interest in the food industry was piqued. While he had internships throughout his college years in chemical engineering roles, he found a lack of an engineering mindset when working in QA departments. He wanted to see how he could combine his skills and knowledge with his passion for the food industry.

After graduating in 2019, Arturo dabbled in different career paths using both his chemical engineering background and his food industry knowledge, from curating sauces for different restaurants to working in fresh fruit processing plants. Eventually, he found his way home to Gills Onions. 

Food Safety Beyond the Field: How Gills Onions Ensures Quality with FSQA

Food safety is a top priority for any company in the food industry, and Gills Onions is no exception. That’s where Arturo Canales and his team come in. As the head of Gills Onions’ FSQA program, Arturo is responsible for ensuring that the company’s products meet the highest safety and quality standards. But what exactly is FSQA, and why is it so important?

FSQA stands for Food Safety and Quality Assurance. It encompasses everything from the auditing criteria and standards for operations, to employee food safety culture, and managing cleaning processes to guarantee safe food. Arturo’s team monitors the onions from the field to the consumer, testing them for pathogens before they’re brought into the facility.

Once our onions have been deemed safe to enter the plant, Arturo’s team monitors the equipment and oversees the onion washing and sanitizing process. They also ensure the sizes and weights of products meet customer specifications and that finished onion products are tested for safety before leaving the facility.

Arturo has been with Gills Onions for just over two years, and in that time, he’s made a real impact on the company’s food safety practices. His background and experience in chemical engineering have brought an invaluable perspective to the FSQA program at Gills Onions.

As the Food Safety and QA Manager, he oversees lab testing, QA technicians, finished product testing, and raw product testing. He and his team work behind the scenes, conducting yeast and mold testing, and shelf life testing, to ensure the company can provide the shelf life we’re known for. 

The 18-day shelf life of Gills Onions’ products is a source of pride for the team, and rightfully so. It’s incredible to think that something we process in California can be enjoyed by someone across the country or even internationally just a few days later.

Arturo Canales’ Typical Week at Gills Onions

So what does a typical day or week look like for someone who manages FSQA? Arturo says it’s all about keeping up with technology and looking for ways to improve systems, whether for food safety or quality. The team uses data to make things more efficient and collaborates with other departments to achieve sustainability goals. And thanks to going paperless in their department, all of their processes are streamlined and easily managed through iPads.

Overall, Arturo and his team play a crucial role in ensuring that Gills Onions’ products are delicious and safe to eat. Their commitment to food safety and quality is a testament to the company’s dedication to providing the best products possible to our customers.

Culture is Key: Why Gills Onions is More Than Just a Company

When we asked Arturo what he loved most about working at Gills Onions, his response was immediate: “It’s the culture.” Thanks to the team’s strong connection, “Communication is excellent, and problem-solving is quick,” he said. Arturo is especially proud of the quality department and how much they work with technology. The systems they’ve implemented are natural, and the team is always open to incorporating new tech and making suggestions for improvement.

“Steve Gill, the owner, plays a big part in this as well,” said Arturo. “He checks in regularly and is involved in everything. It’s refreshing to see an owner who is so open to new ideas and dedicated to incorporating new improvements.” 

Thanks to their dedication to quality and food safety, Arturo and his team have complete confidence in their products. They know they’re providing customers with exceptional quality, and that’s a feeling they take great pride in. 

Follow Your Instincts: Arturo Canales’ Advice for Students in Agriculture

Reflecting on his education and current career path, Arturo has some valuable advice for current and prospective college students: “Follow your instincts. I didn’t necessarily think that I would end up working in agriculture,” said Arturo, “but I enjoy what I do, and I’m grateful that I followed my instincts and kept an open mind about my career options.”

“Sometimes [students] are too focused on what their selected major is, and that closes them off to other opportunities. Be open to different paths,” he said. 

Arturo’s position at Gills Onions is a perfect example of the many different career paths available in agriculture beyond labor on the farm. It’s important for students to realize that there are a whole host of rewarding careers in agriculture that don’t necessarily involve working in the field, and that these jobs can have a huge impact on how food is supplied to the end user.

We’re thrilled to have Arturo on our team, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Gills, especially in our FSQA program.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way?” Contact the Gills Onions sales department to learn more.

Arturo Canales