December 15, 2022
Welcome back to our series, “Faces of Ace.” In our last installment, we chatted with Ace’s Business Development Executive, Matt Fried, about his upbringing in the food world, dedication to fitness, and love of fermented foods. This week, we chatted with Ace’s Produce Purchasing Manager, Jon Fernandez. Keep reading!
As Ace’s Produce Purchasing Manager, Jon Fernandez is the “one-man show” responsible for inputting all of the produce orders, handling logistics, and overseeing a portion of quality control.
“It keeps me entertained,” he says of the challenge and pace of the role. “You’re dealing with something that’s alive…the very moment you cut it off a tree or you bring it out from the ground, the stuff starts to die. So you have a very limited window to get it from the farms to our doors and then to our customers.”
Jon, who’s from the Dominican Republic, says it’s very typical to eat organic in his home country. “In America, it’s an entire movement that came about over many decades. But for many Hispanic countries, it’s just really just a norm. We don’t have a specific name like ‘organic’ for it — it just happens to be organic.”
Home-grown food is also more common in the DR, with many people growing their own wheat in their backyards. “With tropical weather, all you need to do is just leave the crops in the ground, let them grow, and you’ll have enough to satisfy a small town — which is why there’s no reason for that industrialized process,” says Jon. “We don’t have to satisfy millions and millions and millions of people. It’s a smaller country. With the tropical weather, everything grows all year round.”
Jon may have grown up eating organic, but he didn’t always work in the industry. A former engineer, Jon worked at Microsoft and Amazon before moving to New York in 2013. Soon after, he came across a listing for a job at Ace. As a self-identifying foodie, he was intrigued by the opportunity to work in the industry. Then he went in for his interview.
“I really, really just felt inclined to work with people like that,” he says of his first meeting with Ace CEO Tor, COO Alberto, and Ace’s late founder, Larry Vierling. “I have always wanted to believe that one can do business the right way.”
When he’s not at Ace, Jon spends time with his four-legged son and tries new restaurants with his wife, who is also an avid foodie. Their joint Instagram account @flavorloverss chronicles their adventures. His obsession with food isn’t limited to restaurants, either. At home, Jon loves making his special eggplant parmigiana, which involves a dehydration process and takes two full days to prepare.
Jon and his wife also like to travel “pretty much anywhere and everywhere.” This spring, they’ll embark on a cruise that will allow them to tour seven different countries in northern Europe. “The cruise format helps to give you a glimpse into multiple countries and cultures,” says Jon. “You get there at seven in the morning, you leave the city at seven o’clock at night. So you have 12 hours to surround yourself and visit places…I like the fact that you just go back to the boat, go to sleep, and then you wake up in a whole new country, a whole new city, and just do it all over again.”
Nine years into his tenure at Ace, Jon’s feelings about the company and its mission haven’t changed. “It’s really hard to do the right thing — specifically in the environment we’re in — right now. But that is definitely one of the things that makes me an Ace Natural cheerleader. It’s just a really good company with good people, good ethical values, and good morals. It’s really hard to find.”