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Frello arrives with ‘Fresh Hello’

rio rico, az — Frello.

It’s not a Spanish word with a challenging pronunciation.

It’s a word created as a name for a new produce company.

Frello, Willy Martinez explained, is a combination of “fresh” and “hello.” Friendly, simple and easy to say: FRELL-o. It rhymes will “hello.” And it’s fresh.

Willy-Martinez-Sergio-Yepiz-FrelloWilly Martinez, Frello partner, and Sergio Yepiz, who handles operations, in the Rio Rico office of Frello in early November, as the business was a few days from officially opening.The name is meant to be “very playful,” said Martinez. “We’re in the business of healthy food. It makes people live longer and be happier. That keeps us going.”

Over the last 16 years, Martinez has various good experiences in the industry, but this is his first venture into owning and operating a company. He is partners with the large-volume produce-growing Stabropoulos family in Culiacan.

“I am also from Culiacan and I’ve known the family for a long time,” Martinez said.

There is a third partner, who is not in the produce business.

The Stabropoulos family also grows in Tula, Tamaulipas, and will also be supplying Frello from there.

Starting this November, key commodities that will be distributed by Frello are Roma and grape tomatoes, slicer cucumbers and Bell peppers.

“We will also handle Persian limes, avocados, mini-sweets and some summer squash to start with” this fall, Martinez said. “We need to be attractive to our customers. Hopefully, the retail and foodservice customers will see me as a good option.”

Frello will receive product through McAllen, TX, Nogales, “and Otay-Mesa if necessary.” He added that the Tamaulipas product would be shipped through McAllen.

In Frello’s Rio Rico headquarters, there will be a staff of five, including Martinez. There will be a salesman, and Sergio Yepiz is running operation. There will also be support staff.

Martinez is part of the famous Culiacan Ley family, whose roots go back to Martinez’ great-grandfather Juan Ley Fong, who, as a pre-adolescent, snuck onto a ship in a Chinese port in 1910. He hid as a stowaway aboard the vessel which had a destination unknown to him. Apparently, he felt life wherever the ship landed would be better than his experience in China.

Once at sea, the captain had the stowaway work for his keep. The ship landed in Mazatlan and Ley (originally named Lee) stayed to eventually father six boys and three daughters. Many of them landed in the Culiacan produce business and remain there today.