Julie Lucido grew up in the produce industry, with parents involved in companies such as Pandol Bros. Inc. and Sun-Maid. In 2004 she became sole owner of Marketing Plus.
Julie Lucido grew up in the produce industry, with parents involved in companies such as Pandol Bros. Inc. and Sun-Maid. In 2004 she became sole owner of Marketing Plus.

The name “Lucido” has its root in a Latin word meaning “shining,” and that’s exactly what Julie Lucido helps her produce company clients do.

Sunlight International Inc.’s owner, Nick Dulcich, credits Lucido, chief executive officer and owner of Marketing Plus, Fresno, Calif., with helping Sunlight International become more visible in the industry.

“I believe she made us shine with her creativity and her know-how,” he said.

Several years ago, Dulcich was impressed by a Well-Pict berry ad depicting the Eiffel Tower as a toothpick piercing a giant strawberry.

“I said, ‘find out who’s doing these ads because this is phenomenal,’” Dulcich said.

“And lo and behold, it was Julie from Fresno.”

Marketing Plus specializes in providing Sunlight International and other produce industry clients with creative services, including advertising, packaging design, trade-show planning and online communications.

The Eiffel Tower ad was part of a campaign Lucido’s group put together that focused on “bigger, better berries,” as well as the global nature of the brand, Lucido said.

Lucido’s award-winning group includes designers, a creative director, copywriters and account executives.

Some handle some accounts on their own, but Lucido said she is a hands-on leader who maintains oversight and provides continuity for customers. She does marketing consultations, directs campaigns and designs packaging.


Start in produce

Lucido grew up in the industry. Her great uncle, Ed Guzi, in 1970 was among the first importers of Chilean fruit to the U.S. He later started Coexport International Inc., Chicago.

Her father, Bob Cox, worked for Coexport International before moving the family to California, where he worked for Pandol Bros. Inc.

Her mother, Susan Hance, worked for Sun-Maid before becoming a partner in Marketing Plus with Lucido’s stepfather, Robert Hance.

“I saw how hard produce people worked,” she said. “When I was younger, I would say, ‘I am never going to work in produce!’”

It was her mother who convinced Lucido to sign a one-year contract with Marketing Plus. Once she dove in, she knew she’d stay. In 2004, she became sole owner of Marketing Plus.

She said her biggest accomplishment is establishing long-term, collaborative partnerships with clients, many of whom have been with the company for decades.

“We really want to act like an internal marketing department for each of our clients,” she said. “We’re their ‘outside inside’ marketing department.”

Lucido serves as vice chairwoman of the Produce Marketing Association’s Exhibitor Advisory Committee.

She also volunteers for the nonprofit SCORE Association as a mentor for small business owners, and participates in community theater as an actor, choreographer and director.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Lucido worked for two and a half years for a nonprofit children’s museum that was in legal and financial trouble.

She got the job, she said, because she was willing to work for a reasonable salary.

“I just attacked the job and learned how to balance the books and how to do programming when you can’t cut any more expenses,” she said.

“By the time I left, it was in the green.”

Lucido encourages others to explore all possibilities, even when challenged by naysayers, as she was when she took the museum job.

“Don’t be afraid to just dive in and prove yourself,” she said.