Caribbean Produce Exchange founder dead at 87
Rodríguez Pagán was born on a Jayuya farm and spent much of his childhood in Arecibo.
He earned a degree in horticulture from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez and a marketing degree from Ohio State University.
Rodríguez Pagán worked for years with the Agriculture Department, headings the agency’s first marketing program, organizing its inspection and regulation arm and directing the price control unit.
He followed his entrepreneurial spirit in 1960, launching a business a tomato and plantain packing operation and selling the produce out of a truck outside his home.
Rodríguez Pagán retired some years ago, handing the reins of Caribbean Produce Exchange to his grandson Gualberto Rodríguez III.
The company, which employs some 240 people, now posts roughly $100 million in annual sales, offering a selection of more than 1,000 fresh products to more than 400 clients.
“He was an impressive man, part of the exalted generation of Puerto Ricans who worked not just for themselves, but for future generations,” Rodríguez III said. “He transcended death years ago when his energy and spirit was instilled in the thinking and actions of many others.”