Ricardo Echeverri is the vice president of the tropical program for produce company Fyffes North America, based in Coral Gables, Florida. Originally from Medellin, Colombia, a Division I tennis scholarship and top-notch engineering program brought him to Mercer. Echeverri holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s in business administration from the University.
Here are five things to know about Echeverri:
1. He found a family at Mercer.
“I remember setting foot on a small town called Macon all by myself with a heavy heart from having left my hometown, Medellin,” he said. “The next day, I had my freshman orientation program where I met other international students and quickly made good friends from all around the world. I attribute my perspective on diversity and how I apply it within my role to the exposure I received at Mercer University.”
He enjoyed representing Mercer across the country as a member of the tennis team. The support of his fellow students and the community made him feel like he was part of a big family, which meant a lot as he was missing his family in Colombia.
2. Mercer taught him about balance.
Echeverri is proud to be an alumnus of Mercer’s engineering program, from which he gained great problem-solving and analytical skills. In addition, his time on the tennis team showed him how to be disciplined and balance his athletic and academic responsibilities.
“This helped me become a very structured and goal–oriented individual,” he said. “My MBA at Stetson School of Business provided me with great leadership skills and the business background I needed to run the different programs I’ve run throughout my career.”
3. Produce is his business.
After earning his MBA, Echeverri was really interested in working in the produce industry. He was able to secure a position as assistant product manager for the melon program at Del Monte Fresh Produce and then move up the ranks.
“I couldn’t believe that I was starting my career within such a great company and getting the opportunity to learn the business from one of the best in the industry,” he said.
Five years later, he was managing and growing the plantain program for Bounty Fresh, and his next career step took him to Fyffes as the vice president of the tropical program. In this position, he organizes everything from the buying to the selling of products.
He has expanded product offerings from three to 18 by sourcing directly from growers in Central and South America. He grew revenue by 300 percent his first year on the job, and it has increased by 30 percent each year since then.
4. He loves his job.
Echeverri said his job requires a problem-solving mindset, and it keeps him entertained and on his toes every day.
“I love the idea of bringing healthy fruits into the market and helping people keep a healthier lifestyle. In addition, visiting different production areas in Central and South America has been a great experience for both my professional and personal life,” he said. “I have learned from many different cultures and met a diverse array of great people along the way. There is never a dull moment in this business.”
5. He has big plans for his future.
“At this moment, my professional plan is to continue growing the tropical program and become the leading player in the industry,” Echeverri said. “(Fyffes) wants to become the go-to supplier for all main retailers and develop their tropical assortments nationwide. For my future plans, I’ll keep aiming high, keep moving up the corporate ladder and become the CEO of a produce company or, why not, run my own company.”