Posted on March 11, 2012
This year, Frieda Caplan will be celebrating 50 years as a member of Temple Beth David. It was in 1962 when her husband Al (Founding President of Temple Beth David), along with friend Jack Broscow, met in their home to discuss plans of building a temple in the area. In those early days, people would also meet at the Old Katella Deli (now The Original Fish Company) in Los Alamitos to discuss plans for raising money towards the building of a temple.
Over the 50 years, her fondest memories at TBD revolve around the numerous family celebrations that have taken place. Both her children, Karen and Jackie, had their Bat Mitzvahs at TBD and all her grandchildren have had either a Bar or Bat Mitzvah there. Her grandchildren have all had their baby-naming at the temple and Karen was married at the temple. She also has enjoyed the many people she’s come into contact with over the years through her affiliation with the temple.
Frieda grew up in the Highland Park area near Pasadena and credits the start of her Jewish life when as a teenager she belonged to the Junior B’nai Brith and AZA. She enjoyed her involvement in those organizations because of the social interaction they offered and because of the leadership skills she would develop. She graduated U.C.L.A. with a degree in Political Science and Economics.
The year 1962 would also be a life-changing year for Frieda for another reason. That would be the year that she began her own company called “Produce Specialties Inc.” (now “Frieda’s The Specialty Produce Company”) which focuses on providing a wide range of high-quality exotic and unusual fruits, vegetables and specialty produce. Starting out with a small fruits and vegetable stand at the Los Angeles Produce Market, the company now has an 81,000 square foot warehouse in the Los Alamitos area with 80 employees and is the nation’s leading marketer and distributor of specialty produce. It supplies grocery retailers and foodservice distributors with more than 600 varieties of exotic fruit, gourmet vegetables, and unique companion items. Frieda is somewhat of an icon in the produce industry as she was the first woman to a own a produce company in the United States.
For someone who has achieved this much success in the produce industry her entry into this business was actually quite by accident. By the time Karen was 3 months old, Frieda wanted to continue breast-feeding and thought that if she took a job that had the unusual hours of working the very early hours of the morning, she could then return home and be there for her. Through a family contact, she landed a job at a produce company in the L.A. Market and it was from that early start that the seeds were laid for her to eventually become the most successful owner of a produce company in the United States.
Asked what has been her biggest accomplishment in her illustrious career she says making Karen president of Frieda’s, Inc. “It was probably the smartest business move I ever made.” Her other daughter, Jackie, also joined the company and Frieda says that having her 2 daughters working at her company could not make her any more proud!
At age 88, Frieda goes to work every day working full time in her position as Chairman of the Board. The company continues to be family owned as Karen is President and CEO and Jackie is Vice President.
Frieda Caplan is a remarkable woman and we are all so very happy that she has chosen Temple Beth David to be her religious home for the past 50 years!