At Gills Onions, we know that our employees are essential to our success. One of our star team members is Jose Cardona, who has been with us for over 15 years.
We recently sat down with Jose to chat about his time at Gills Onions. From starting out in the HR safety offices, to working hard in the fields, to now leading our Rio Farms onion division team, Jose has seen it all. And, he’s got stories to share!
Sowing Seeds of Success
Growing up in the small agricultural community of King City, California, Jose always knew he wanted to be outside, working alongside others in the fields. From a young age, Jose remembers thinking that getting paid to spend your day out under the California sun alongside your buddies was surreal – not a job, but a dream. Watching his father become an integral part of Rio Farms for over 30 years inspired Jose to do the same.
Jose earned his associate’s degree at Hartnell College in King City, which allowed him to be able to work part-time in irrigation for Rio Farms while he attended classes.
“It was probably one of the hardest jobs I’ve done, but also the most fun job I’ve had,” Jose says. He loved the camaraderie and friendship that was created while working long days in the hot sun, saving money for college.
In 2014, Jose transferred to Fresno State to finish up his degree, always sure to come back to Rio Farms in the summers to work.
Jose’s Advice for Agriculture Students
For Agriculture students currently attending university, Jose has two important pieces of advice: Connect with people who relate to you, and don’t stress about the future – where you end up doesn’t have to be your final destination.
During his first several weeks at university, Jose remembers feeling sad and lonely, wondering if he made the right choice going to college and leaving home. His solution was finding a community. Jose joined an agriculture fraternity at Fresno State where he was able to connect with others in his field. These connections have followed him for years and helped him along his career path.
As a student, Jose found himself stressing a lot about the unknowns of his future or where he would end up with his degree. He found that the best practice was remembering that he didn’t have to stay in one place. There are always opportunities and different paths to take. His mantra became, “Where you end up doesn’t have to be the final destination.”
After graduating with a degree in agriculture, Jose tried his hand at some other agricultural jobs in the area, but he soon realized it wasn’t the same as what he knew and loved at Rio Farms.
What Jose Loves Most About Gills Onions
As someone who manages an entire onion division for a large company, his typical day is far from boring. He’s constantly juggling a variety of tasks – from making sure he’s up-to-date on weather reports to managing employees and planning for the weeks ahead.
Jose is always thinking about the future of the fields. He ensures trucking is lined up and field quality is up to par. He even has to make water calls three weeks to a month before harvest and spends time walking the fields to make sure the right amount of water is being applied. It’s a fast-paced job that requires constant attention and strategic planning, but for Jose, it’s all worth it to see a successful onion harvest come to fruition.
From the top down (starting with Steven and David Gill), everyone involved in the onion-growing process is passionate about growing the healthiest onion possible. “Steve puts his money where his mouth is,” Jose says, “and there are a lot of great practices he has created with onions – our fertility program, state-of-the-art equipment, and soil health being the foundation.”
That passion inspires employees like Jose to understand their essential roll in the onion’s lifecycle and show up each day ready to do their best. Their dedication and commitment makes Gills Onions a great place to be.
Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way?” Contact our sales department to learn more. Want to join the Gills team? Reach out to us.