2016 Pillar Award - James Frank Manson
This year's honoree - a family man, a friend, a good, loyal and effective businessman - helped build the strong base for the future of our industry. Although he is no longer active in the business, we are lucky to still count on his wisdom today.
James Frank Manson, better known as Jim Manson, is recognized today as a Pillar of the FPAA. His hard work and dedication have helped build a strong foundation for the Mexican fresh produce industrWhen one thinks of a pillar, one thinks of longevity, support and strength. These three adjectives could well be used to describe this year's Pillar of the FPAA, whose time in the industry has born witness to numerous changes. Yet, through it all, this year's honoree is noted as a keeper of tradition.
With approximately 50 years of being directly involved in the business, this year's honoree served as the right-hand man for many importers and growers who relied on him to help get their fruits and vegetables across the border.
This year's honoree started in the business after graduating from Business Management at the Brown Military Academy in San Diego, CA. This background in business management and professional service made the company grow more than ten-times and be highly recognized and respected by all those in the trading business, including governmental entities.
This year's Pillar has been described as a business man of integrity, with a strong work ethic. He believes that the highest compliment in business would be the one from his competitors.
In fact, a friend and fellow peer said, "He has been honest, a tough competitor, an up-front person, and good for the deal. He gave growers lots of good advice, and he looked after his clients and the industry. This is a well-deserved honor."
This year's honoree took great care of his customers. No matter how small or how big, they all received the same attention. He always made sure that the relationship was personal. As a pilot for almost 35 years, he would fly clients to Mexico and visit others at their farms. These regular flights taking distributors to the growing regions in Mexico were an important part of solidifying the business relationships that helped this industry grow. Connecting people and fostering relationships were invaluable.
Running a family Custom House Brokerage, this year's honoree worked with officials and businesses on both sides of the border to make the movement of goods as efficient as possible. He also used to work closely with the West Mexico Vegetable Distributors Association, now known as the FPAA, to address issues when crossing the border.
Norma Agosttini from U.S. Customs and Border Protection remembers him as a very professional man, pleasant and deferential. She recalls what a pleasure it was to see him at the office whenever he would come and ask "where are my values?"
His knowledge of regulations and the ability to always be on top of things made him very effective in his work.
Such was his reputation among his peers that he was elected to serve as president and vice-president for many years of the Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association.
In his own business, he was the president of Pacific Brokerage from 1964- 1998, the brokerage firm that has served the area since 1929 when it was founded by his father James William Manson.
A great example of this respect and consideration for the others in the industry is illustrated by what happened during World War II, when Eddie Shannon from Shannon Brokerage, a competing customs broker, had to leave the business when he was drafted into World War II.
Eddie Shannon transferred all of his clients to Pacific Brokerage for the duration of his time in the service. Upon Eddie's return, the Mansons felt the only right thing to do was to hand back all of Shannon Brokerage's clients. The Mansons and Shannons continue to be close friends to this day.
Friends and hobbies are an important part this year's honoree's life. He built close relationships in his life as team roper, fly-fishing aficionado and golfer. Perhaps the most important part of his career and contributions are his strong family. They have been his support, starting with his wife of 42 years, Sharon Rose Manson, and his children J.B., Michelle and Debbie and six grandchildren.
J.B, who took over the operations at Pacific Brokerage, speaks about his father with enormous admiration and gratitude for being such a great mentor and role model in business and life. Michelle remembers warmly when her father would return from his business trips to Mexico and he would fly over the house a couple times to let them know that "dad was home."