United Fresh and Dole Honor Retail Produce Managers: Matt Pace of Lowes, Dillon Maple of Hy-Vee, and Jerod Proctor of Schnucks
UNITED STATES – With United Fresh 2017 in Chicago fast approaching, the United Fresh Produce Association has already begun ushering in the festivities. The association has taken to the road to meet with the winners of its 2017 Retail Produce Manager Awards and honor the outstanding managers, throughout North America, that bring fresh produce and excellent customer service to consumers each day.
“Produce managers are the face of our industry to the consumer. Their creative merchandising and positive approach to customer service directly correlates to the growth of sales and ultimately consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. “We are grateful to Dole for once again sponsoring this program and for their partnership in recognizing these 25 deserving honorees.”
Over the last few weeks, in partnership with Dole, Jeff Oberman, United Fresh’s Vice President of Trade Relations, has embarked on a tour throughout North America, visiting these exceptional produce managers in their own stores, meeting with their executive merchandising and procurement teams, and finding out just what makes them so extraordinary.
“The opportunity to meet personally with these produce managers in their stores has provided tremendous insight on how to capitalize on new produce items and fresh food trends. In Chicago, these produce managers will share the strategies with attendees and gain knowledge from exhibitors sharing the leading innovations for the future of the produce industry during the new FreshMKT Conference events,” added Oberman.
In this first of several articles, I spoke to retail leaders about honorees from Lowes Foods, Hy-Vee, and Schnuck Markets.
The first of these outstanding honorees is Matt Pace, Produce Manager for Lowes Foods in Winston-Salem, NC. I asked Richard McKellogg, Director of Produce & Floral Merchandising for Lowes Food Stores Inc. to share his impressions of Matt and his thoughts on the occasion.
“It is a great honor for both Matt Pace and Lowes Foods to be recognized by United Fresh and Dole Fresh as a winner in the 2017 Retail Produce Manager Awards Program,” Richard told me. “Over the years, Matt has grown in both produce expertise and leadership in his role as Produce Manager. The passion he brings everyday exemplifies our culture of offering our guests high-quality produce and unparalleled service in our marketing area.”
I also had an opportunity to tap Mike Orf, Assistant Vice President, Produce Operations for Hy-Vee, speak to him about Dillon Maple, an honoree from Hy-Vee’s Des Moines, Iowa location, and ask what makes Maple such an outstanding team member for the company.
“One of the attributes that I think makes Dillon a deserving honoree for the United Fresh Produce Manager Award program is his focus on the customer,” Mike said. “He’s very in touch with his customer base; he knows many of his customers and even their kids by name. He knows what they want and tailors his product offerings to meet their lifestyle needs. He’s an excellent merchant and offers the items that today’s customers are looking for: quality first, locally grown, an extensive organic selection, and all of the convenience of store produced fresh cut fruit and vegetables.”
Finally, I spoke to Schnuck Market’s Mike Tipton, Vice President Produce, about Jerod Proctor’s win and what makes this Produce Manager so key to the company’s Springfield, Illinois store.
“Jerod is an outstanding Produce Manager who consistently provides exceptional customer service to help drive fruit and vegetable consumptions,” Mike noted. “We congratulate him on receiving the 2017 Retail Produce Manager Award. With Jerod’s enthusiasm and motivation to share his knowledge of produce with customers and fellow teammates, he is truly an asset to the Schnucks team.”
Since United Fresh began its Retail Produce Manager Award program in 2005, nearly 300 retail produce managers, representing more than 90 different retail banners, have been honored for their contributions to the industry. Now in its third year as title sponsor, Bil Goldfield tells me the company is honored to have a hand in recognizing these produce managers and their important contributions to our industry.
“This is Dole's third year as the title sponsor of this event with United Fresh, and as a company we feel quite privileged to be part of this,” said Bil. “These exceptional produce managers from across North America are truly the ambassadors of our products. They are the ones that make the connection in store with consumers, helping educate them, discovering new tastes, new preparations, and giving them tips that elevate our produce and the consumers' in-home experience. As such, we are proud to be able to share this recognition and award as a way to genuinely thank them—on behalf of Dole and the entire produce industry.”
Award winners will be honored by United Fresh and Dole at United Fresh 2017 in Chicago this June 13-15. To see the full list of winners, visit: http://www.unitedfreshshow.org/retail-foodservice-celebration-dinner