Work anniversary: Wilfredo Pagan

Team member Wilfredo Pagan has been with Pine Island for forty years this week! Wilfredo and his family have been a huge part of the farm’s success; his wife Nancy works at the Ocean Spray receiving station in Chatsworth, his brother William was a longtime employee, and his in-laws include current team stalwarts Junior Colon, Caesar Colon, and Gerardo Ortiz, as well as retired manager Joe Colon.

Wilfredo has done just about every task that can be done during his time here, and he does it very well! Back in 2014, when asked about goals, he said:

“My personal goals are the same as they’ve always been,” he says. “Keep doing what I’m doing and keep getting better at it.” Specifically, he says, this means always being willing to learn new things. “I’ve done a lot while I’ve been here. I run a lot of the heavier equipment, I help with the bog renovations, I put in new flood gates. . . I always have a lot to learn from Junior. Now I’ve been learning all the ins and outs of the laser leveling. Always something new to pick up.”

“It’s amazing to me that forty years have gone by since Wilfredo started here as a seasonal worker,” says Pine Island CEO Bill Haines, “but he’s developed into a dependable and versatile employee. We can absolutely count on him to be the foreman when we’re installing gates or laying irrigation line; he’s totally dependable and reliable if we have a frost event or a big rain. He’s an employee that we have always counted and can continue to count on.” But most importantly: “As an added plus, he’s a big Eagles fan!”

We’re pleased and proud to have Wilfredo here with us. Thanks for everything you’ve done and will continue to do!

Work anniversary: Emmanuel Colon

Last month was a milestone work anniversary for team stalwart Emmanuel Colon, who has now been here as a full-time team member for five years!

Emmanuel Colon (whose brother Israel is a valued long-time seasonal team member) was a six-year seasonal team member before starting with us full-time in April 2014 to assist Facilities Supervisor Mike Guest. He helped build the new well at Caley, and has excellent technical skills. Back then, during the harvest, he was also on the forklift crew at the packing house, which required a lot of hustle. Presently, in addition to the numerous other tasks he performs throughout the year, he assists the harvest team as a driver, hauling the crop to the Ocean Spray receiving station in Chatsworth.

“He’s a hard worker,” Mike said of Emmanuel at the time. “Not only is he willing to do anything, he’s also willing to stop and ask questions if it’s something he’s not sure about; he won’t just bluff his way through it. I never have to worry if I have to go somewhere; when Emmanuel is left in charge, things get done and they get done right.”

“Emmanuel is a great team member,” says CEO Bill Haines. “He’s very dependable, he works really hard, he’s taken every opportunity to increase his skills and make himself even more valuable to Pine Island, and I hope he’s here for many more years.”

Work Anniversary – Ernie Waszkiewicz

Last week marked Facilities/Equipment team member Ernie Waszkiewicz’s ten-year work anniversary at Pine Island!

“Ernie does a lot of field work, a lot of fabricating, a lot with the irrigation systems,” says his manager, Louis Cantafio. “He’s always busy; we need more like him. He has a lot of interesting experience under his belt, and spends time working with the other guys, helping them with stuff when needed. He’s great with getting things going right away; a lot of times when something breaks, it’s something we need right now and getting it into the shop for a lengthy repair just won’t be feasible. So he’s really good at making stuff go now that has to go now, which is great for everyone. He’s also been doing the installs for our ongoing automation project; that’s been three years now. It’s an incredible amount of work: a lot of wiring and a lot of modifying the system to make it all go together. I have nothing but nice things to say; I’m glad when he’s here, and a little nervous when he’s not.” Louis also notes one of his own top priorities: “And I can’t forget: he makes a nice pot of coffee!”

Fellow team members have high praise for Ernie as well: his other shop team members mention his being a great worker as well as a great teammate. “He always bails everyone out when they need to be bailed out,” Coco Mercado says. “If you need help, he’s right there pitching in.” Jeremy Fenstermaker agrees: “Ernie is a great guy to work with, and a great guy to hang out with; He’s always there for you. No matter the situation, he gives his all. He’d give you the sleeveless shirt off of his back. I’m glad to know him as a colleague and a friend!”

“Ernie: the man in black!” says CEO Bill Haines. “Ernie’s a great member of the team. His versatility makes him highly valuable; he’s a mechanic, he’s a welder, he’s a troubleshooter, he does whatever it takes. On frost night, if you need him, he’s there getting stuff going. He’s part of the team that has actually reduced the amount of call-outs we have every night. People don’t have to get out on a frost night because of stuff that’s ready to go, and that’s the way it should be. He’s a big part of that. He shows up every day, and I never have to worry about it. And he gets along with people; I enjoy having him on the team.”

Thanks for everything you do, Ernie!

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.”