NMDA employee wins national award

30-year staff member recognized for working to maintain fair marketplace
in New Mexico

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – A 30-year employee of New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) has been honored at the national level for his service in the field of weights and measures.  People in that field work to ensure marketplace fairness by testing and certifying devices used to weigh and measure products for sale – everything from scales that weigh the produce you buy at the grocery store, to the fuel pumps that measure how much gas or diesel you pump at the gas station.

Joe Gomez, who directs NMDA’s Standards and Consumer Services Division, was presented the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from the National Conference on Weights and Measures during its annual meeting this week in Detroit.  Conference officials said Gomez has made “important contributions to [the field] and served as a resource for knowledge”.

Gomez was first hired at NMDA in 1984 as a fruit and vegetable inspector, then switched to become an inspector in the Standards and Consumer Services Division.  In the latter role, Gomez checked all manner of weighing and measuring devices, from scales used to weigh cattle and other livestock for sale, to scales used to measure the weight of produce at the grocery store.  Gomez also checked milk, bread, meat and other items to make sure that they were labeled appropriately and that they rang up at the register with the right price-tag.

Gomez worked his way up to eventually become division director of Standards and Consumer Services, a position he has held since 2001.

“Joe’s leadership has helped to ensure the cornerstone of commerce: a fair marketplace for both buyer and seller,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “When I say fair marketplace, what I mean is a marketplace in which customers get what they pay for – and sellers aren’t unwittingly shorting themselves on the sale.”

Gomez lives and works in Las Cruces, where NMDA’s main office is located on the campus of New Mexico State University.  Some of NMDA’s 140 employees work across the state as inspectors like the one Gomez used to be – and like the ones he now oversees.

“The next time you’re running errands, look around and you just might see a round sticker showing that the device – whether it’s the produce scale at the grocery store, or a fuel pump at the gas station – has been certified by NMDA,” Witte said.  “This is the kind of service that enhances consumer confidence and enables New Mexico businesses to compete fairly at home and abroad – both of which go a long way in strengthening the state’s economy.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates that “sales of products or services impacted by weights and measures laws in the United States represent approximately 50 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.”