Ugly fruits and vegetables will soon have a home in Tucson.
San Francisco-based Imperfect Produce is entering the Arizona market and has chosen Tucson as the site of its national customer care center, creating up to 350 new jobs over the next five years.
The company leased 24,000 square feet at 3535 E. Valencia Road, near South Palo Verde Road, to support its subscription-based produce delivery business.
Plans for a future distribution center locally are also underway for when the Imperfect begins serving the local market toward the end of 2019.
Working directly with farms, Imperfect buys fruits and vegetables that do not meet the cosmetic standards of grocery stores and delivers them to subscribers.
The company chose Tucson as the site of its first centralized customer care center because of the workforce and the region’s logistics, said Derek Gordon, the company’s chief operating officer.
Up to 350 employees will be hired at the care center over the next five years with an average starting salary of $15.50 an hour, full benefits, stock options and a free subscription of weekly produce boxes, Gordon said.
While job duties will entail old-fashioned telephone customer service, the majority of employees will work with customers via technology and social media.
“We’re looking for people with good bedside manner that are good with technology and understand the etiquette on social media,” Gordon said. “People with emotional intelligence.”
Visit imperfectproduce.com/jobs for more information or to apply in the coming months as the company posts local openings.
“Imperfect is a fast-growing company that is blazing an innovative trail in the food delivery service segment,” said David G. Hutchens, chair of Sun Corridor Inc. and CEO of Tucson Electric Power. “We’re thrilled the company chose Tucson as one of its first office expansions outside of California.”
The company picked Tucson after a nationwide search that lasted nine months.
Partners in the recruiting process included the Arizona Commerce Authority, Pima County, the city of Tucson, Visit Tucson, the University of Arizona, Cushman & Wakefield Picor and Sun Corridor Inc.
“Imperfect is a perfect addition to Tucson, with its environmental and social justice mission of preventing food waste and providing affordable fresh produce,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.
Pima County District 2 Supervisor Ramon Valadez said the east I-10 corridor is the hottest job market in town.
“Congratulations Imperfect and welcome to the south side,” he said. “It’s where the action is.”
The company hopes to open for business Jan. 1.
Imperfect does not have a retail presence and all customers sign up online.
Deliveries are weekly and made in the afternoon or evening, Gordon said.
Prices begin at about $11 for 7 to 9 pounds of produce and up to $27 for 23 to 25 pounds. Visit imperfectproduce.com for detailed pricing information. Tucson deliveries are expected to begin in late 2019.
Imperfect was founded in 2015 and has expanded to several cities around the country. It works with farmers in central California to buy produce that would not be harvested because it doesn’t meet retail standard for appearance, such as lumpy strawberries, crooked carrots or two-headed spuds.
As they enter the Tucson market, Imperfect plans to connect with local farmers to acquire produce.
All produce that does not sell is donated to area food banks and Meals on Wheels.