Pine Island Team Retirements: Carlos Baez

Carlos Baez officially retired this month, and we’re going to miss him!

Carlos started at Pine Island in the early 80s as a seasonal crew member and eventually came on board full time working his way to Equipment Supervisor. He left for a while in the early 2000s but came back in 2008.

His colleagues at the shop are going to miss him, uniformly calling him a “nice guy” (Larry) and “a good guy and a hard worker” (Coco). Maury, one of newest team members, adds: “I didn’t know him long, but he went out of his way to make me feel comfortable when I started here.”

“Carlos was an extremely dedicated worker, doing whatever it took to grow quality cranberries,” says Bryan. “He often went the extra mile to help out. He was easy to work with and got along with anyone. Carlos will be missed on the farm and we look forward to him visiting us in the future.”

The office staff will miss him as well! “Our Carlos, better known at the office as ‘Guest Services Director’,” says Debra. “We miss him so much already! He was always available to help with anything that was needed. It’s a pretty rare quality anymore and much appreciated. He was instrumental in assisting with the arrival of our seasonal employees. From picking them up from the airport, to bringing them shopping, to sitting with me while we went over all the necessary paperwork they needed to fill out. He would always act as the liaison for any questions they might have had and I’m sure they relied on Carlos as much as we did. He will truly be missed but we were certainly blessed to have him on the farm as long as we did. I wish him and his family a wonderful retirement filled with great health and lots of grandchildren play time!”

“We’re going to miss him!” Bill Haines says. “Carlos has been part of the team for a very long time. He’d do anything anybody asked; he was very loyal. Never missed a frost night, whether he was running sprinklers or just on call as a mechanic. We could depend on him any time we needed him.” Bill’s going to miss one thing in particular: “I’m going to miss his jokes that were so awful that they were funny!”

Enjoy retirement, Carlos!

Work anniversaries!

This month, we celebrate work milestones for two of our team members: Carlos Baez and Jose Cruz-Soto, better known to all of us as Blondie!

Carlos has been back with us full-time for ten years now, but he’s actually been around for what seems like forever, first starting out as a seasonal worker and eventually moving up to Equipment Supervisor. “It’s great to have someone knowledgeable and capable backing me up when I’m not here,” says his manager, Louis Cantafio. “There can’t be interruptions in the service that the shop provides, so it’s important we have someone here to place orders, schedule jobs, and to make sure service calls in the field don’t go unanswered. We have to do what we do every day, and when I’m not here, we can count on Carlos for that. I never have to worry that things won’t get done.” Carlos enjoys being here, as well, Louis says. “I know he likes it here. And he’s here for us, there’s no doubt about that.”

Fellow equipment team member Ernie Waszkiewicz agrees: “He gets done what we need to get done; he’s a good guy.”

CEO Bill Haines also has high praise for Carlos. “Carlos started here I don’t know how many years ago as a seasonal employee with the harvest crew. He came on board as a full time employee helping Mike Guest on facilities, and then when we were kind of in a pinch and shorthanded at the old shop, he stepped in and held the fort for a long time. I’ve always appreciated that. He’ll do anything you ask him to do, even if it’s outside of his duties at the shop. He’ll make trips to the airport to pick up seasonal employees, he’ll come to work in the middle of the night if we need him. He’s always a guy you can count on.”

Blondie’s been with us now for twenty years and is the team early bird! “If I’m not the first one here in the morning, it’s because Blondie is,” Louis says. “He’s here and he’s out back, cleaning out the bus from the day before, or scrubbing out his water jug, getting the ice and the water for his crew set up for the day. While everyone else is getting here and settling in he’s already got 20 minutes in getting stuff ready for his crew. He really looks after his people; he makes sure they have their water, they have their tools, they have ice. He’s good.”

“Blondie also known as Smiley for good reason,” says Matt Giberson. “He’s always ready to work. He usually beats me to the shop by 6:15 and is the first one to greet me in the morning. His great enthusiasm,and ‘whatever it takes’ attitude is exactly what you get every morning no matter what the conditions outside. He never complains, and is always willing to ask questions to make things better here at Pine Island.”

“Blondie is one of those quiet guys that does a lot of thankless work, but it never occurs to me to ask if he’s here or not, because Blondie is always there and always has been, ” Bill says. “I couldn’t ask for a more loyal employee.”

“Pine Island is lucky to have those two on our team,” Bill says. “I’m glad they’ve been here for so long, and I hope it says something about what a good workplace we have here that we have employees like them who commit to us for decades.”

Chile – sand screener

Back in February, our equipment team was working to prep our old sand screener to ship it to our affiliate farm, Cranberries Austral Chile (CAC).

Ernie, who was the lead on the project, put in a lot of time making the necessary repairs for easy maintenance when it gets down to Chile. “We want to make sure it’s in great shape for those guys,” he said at the time. “…Basically, we’re going over it and making sure everything is right and that it’s running well.” He also mentioned that actually getting it into the shipping container was going to be a project in itself, and he was absolutely right!

Coco Mercado says, “We did a lot of prep work. All the bigger stuff wouldn’t fit inside the container, so we had to disassemble all the big pieces and make absolutely sure all fluids were drained in order to pass through Customs.” Supervisor Carlos Baez says it took the entire day to disassemble everything, but it is about ready to go! “It’s going to be a tight fit, I can tell you right now,” he says. “But I took a lot of pictures as we were taking everything apart, so once it arrives they should be able to put it back together pretty easily.”

Facilities and Equipment Manager Louis Cantafio is pleased the project is just about wrapped up. “The biggest challenge was getting the conveyor off, but the worst is over,” he says. “Once it gets down there, CAC has the bigger challenge in putting it back together!” CAC, however, has been fantastically helpful about project details. “I thought I would need to research shipping companies, but they have people they deal with all the time and took care of all the transport logistics; it was great.” He’s pleased that this project is wrapping up so the team can turn their attention to some other big projects: in addition to sending some other equipment down to Chile with the screener, the team is working on several maintenance and building projects right here at home. “We’re doing a lot of work on the pump houses making sure they stay in compliance, we got the new Hydremas, we had some involvement in the camp reno, and then we’re pouring bases for new pump houses and rebuilding engines for the bog renovation project. We have a lot going on!”

“But ultimately, CAC is going to be able to increase their efficiency in processing sand, and that’s a job well done for us,” Louis says. “My team always does whatever it takes to hit our targets.”