Our Vegetable Team

Steve Wiley

Steve is a long-time professional in the vegetable seed industry. He has 34 years of combined experience at Monsanto Vegetable Seed Division, Petoseed and Sierra Seed in Nogales, time spent primarily in Latin America where he became fluent in Spanish. Steve has experienced first-hand the technological evolution of the industry which has well-positioned him to oversee Takii’s new state-of art seed processing plant in Salinas. He is a member of the Board of Directors, Monterey County Farm Bureau. A native of the Salinas Valley, Wiley received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science & Management from the 
University of California at Davis.

Trace Pafford

Trace is the primary contact for seed dealers in the Central Valley, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. He also manages Takii’s product development with melons and onions as his primary focus.A graduate of California State University in Fresno, Pafford has more than 15 years of experience in the seed industry. Prior to joining American Takii, he worked for Bayer CropScience (Nunhems) as a senior account manager, managing its melon business in the western United States.

Mitchell Young

  • Most of Mitch’s agricultural education came from his father (a Cornell Cooperative Extension agent for 25 years). During college he worked summers as a field scout for Cornell’s IPM program and as a “field man” for Birdseye division of General Foods.He spent 20 years in manufacturing before returning to his agricultural roots as a Farm Manager for Bejo Seeds Geneva, NY facility. In 2013 he joined Takii as the Eastern Technical Sales Manager.Education – BS in Aviation Management – (He does hold a commercial pilot license) and an MS in Manufacturing Management.

James Young

  • James has over 20 years of technical sales and account management experience, 10 years of which is in the vegetable seed industry. His earliest experience in the vegetable seed industry was when he was 14 years old, working for a squash farmer pulling weeds and harvesting the fruit by hand, washing, and grading it. James is focused on finding the right product that will work for the customer and improve their bottom line. Prior to joining American Takii, James was a territory and product manager for Stoke Seeds and Siegers Seed Company. He has a BS degree in Agricultural Education and Horticulture from Oklahoma State University.

Manuel Jimenez

  • Manuel has been at Takii since 2005. Prior to that he worked a combined 24 years at Dole Fresh Vegetables and Tanimura & Antle Inc. in production, operations, breeding and variety development. As the Vegetable Technical Sales Manager at Takii he is responsible for vegetable product specifications and documentation to be distributed to the North American sales staff and the dealer network. Manuel has a BS in Plant Science, specifically Crop Production management, from CSU Fresno.

Dominic Verutti

  • Dominic received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from York College in New York after attending California State University Sacramento. Dominic has a background in product development and most recently managed direct sales to growers at Vilmorin-Mikado USA. He oversees vegetable product life cycle management as well as direct sampling and business analytics. He is based out of our Salinas, California facility.

Julia Paul

  • Julia has been with American Takii for more than 15 years and provides marketing support for both the flower and vegetable departments. She coordinates trade shows, and does copywriting, editing and graphics. She previously worked in the marketing department of Bosch’s Security Systems division.

Yukie Benech

  • Yukie began her career with Takii after graduating from California State University, Fresno and has experience working in several areas including Accounting, General Administration, Inventory Control, Production and Sales & Marketing. Currently, responsible for managing Customer Services for our dealer network and vegetable seed relating to inventory, quality assurance and contracts. She has been with Takii for over 30 years.

Silvia Escalera

  • Silvia has been at Takii for more than 20 years; she started as a Flower Sales Assistant and later moved to the Vegetable Sales Department. She takes care of contracts, incentive program, price books and keeps track of Inventory/crop and seed purchasing. Prior to joining American Takii, she worked at Incotec as an Executive Secretary and CTR Research Assistant. She is Bilingual/Biliterate in Spanish.