“Italian Heritage. California Soil.”
By VICTORIA CISNEROS, Student Writer
In 1914, Italian native Vincenzo Ricchiuti immigrated to the western United States with dreams of a successful farming company. Some 100 years later, his great grandson, Vincent Ricchiuti (2005), is keeping the family business alive.
Vincent’s grandfather and Vincenzo’s son, Pat Ricchiuti, started P-R Farms, Inc. in 1956 after returning home from WWII. Although the business has been historically driven by almond sales, it has since grown to include products such as grapes, olives, citrus, and tree fruit. Today, P-R Farms, Inc. remains the parent company to the family’s newly added olive oil brand, Enzo Olive Oil, retail store, Enzo’s Table, and real estate company, Heritage Development.
It is no surprise that, as a fourth generation businessman, Vincent has his fingerprints on every branch of the company. Now, with years of experience under his belt, he finds comfort in the authority of the second floor offices but never forgets where it all started.
“I started stacking boxes in the warehouse behind me in third grade, and I drove a forklift way before I started driving a car, said Ricchiuti. “Working here has been engrained in me for a long time.”
Vincent, being a Fresno native and the son of two Fresno State alum, knew that earning an Agricultural Business degree from Fresno State would plant the seed for a fruitful career at P-R Farms, Inc.
“Studying Ag Business at Fresno State was the plan ever since I can remember there being a plan. There was nothing else. I applied to one college, Fresno State, and that’s where I was going.”
Although Ag Business consumed a majority of his time, Ricchiuti immersed himself in the business side of Fresno State football as early as his freshman year, eventually becoming the Assistant Director of Football Operations under then head coach, Pat Hill.
Ricchiuti said that working with the football program gave him experience in a business sector quite different from agriculture and provided insight into how an organization is run outside of the familiar strategies of his own family business.
“The experiences that I gained through my time working for Coach Hill are the things that carry me today… The way to get organized and follow a plan, stick to it and put your nose down and work. Those are all things that I learned by doing and those are the days and hours and weeks that really molded me.”
By the end of his senior year, Ricchiuti dabbled in the thought of pursuing a business career in the world of professional athletics and even interviewed with several NFL franchises. Nonetheless, it was Coach Hill that encouraged him to ease off football and fully commit to P-R Farms, Inc. in 2006.
For Vincent, the ultimate reason he chose to stick with the farming business and continue the Ricchiuti legacy can be easily summed up into one word: family.
“I get to work side by side with my mom and dad every day. I get to build upon the things that my grandfather and great grandfather and father built. I take great pride in that and it’s a humbling experience as well.”
Vincent realizes that the success of the family business extends far beyond this year’s harvest and, in turn, approaches every decision with the future in mind. He hopes that one day his two daughters and newborn son will become P-R Farms, Inc.’s fifth generation leaders.
“This is a family legacy and everything that I’m doing now is not for me at this point, it’s for them and future generations.”