Celebrating Women in Produce: Grimmway Farms’ Lisa McNeece; The Fresh Market’s Teri Miller; Sunkist Growers’ Christina Ward; and Frieda’s Karen Caplan Comment
THE WORLD - I cannot express enough of my love and pride for the women in this industry. In a scant two-and-a-half years, I have learned more about intelligence, adaptability, and guts than I ever could have imagined. Although International Women’s Day has passed, the all-women editorial team at AndNowUKnow is keeping the spirit alive throughout the month of March, bringing you insights from the bold women who make our industry thrive.
Lisa McNeece, Vice President of Foodservice and Industrial Sales, Grimmway Farms
“On March 11, I will be celebrating my 30th year here with Grimmway Farms. It truly has been an amazing journey. Back when I first started in Sales, there were very few women involved—it was a male-dominated business. I worked hard, I listened to my peers, and earned their respect. Most importantly, I built strong relationships. I love seeing so many women in this industry today, many of whom I am happy to call my friends. If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to establish strong relationships. Pick up the phone and reach out! Too often, we get caught up with texting or emailing. Put a voice and face to the person on the other end.”
Teri Miller, Senior Category Manager, The Fresh Market
“The disrespect that I was shown by a select few when I first joined the produce industry in 2007 has almost disappeared completely—there are still a few knuckleheads out there *winking emoji.* At my first Produce Marketing Association event, a Juice Representative yelled for me to stop. He wanted me to take a sample to show to my husband. I politely pointed to my badge and clarified that I am the retailer and the decision maker and that I was insulted by his assumption—many similar stories, but this one sticks with me. To those women before me who paved the way and those that are still paving the way, I am forever grateful and adore each of you.”
Christina Ward, Senior Director of Global Marketing, Sunkist Growers
“It’s an honor to be surrounded by the many inspirational women in this industry, from my peers to our growers and the many more talented people within the supply chain. Produce is packed with a strong network of female leaders who mentor and support each other. We’re excited to celebrate the legacies of those who came before us and this generation of women in produce.”
Karen Caplan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Frieda’s
“It’s been great to see so many women earn their way into significant roles in the produce, retail, and agriculture business. When I started my career in produce, I was one of less than a dozen women in produce sales. When my mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, started the company in 1962, she was the first and only woman to own and operate a wholesale produce company in the U.S. Now, I’m thrilled to see significant numbers of all sales people in our industry are women and it is no longer unusual for a woman to own and manage a company. It’s an exciting time!”
We stand with these strong women and can’t wait to see more of us enter the fresh produce biz. I, for one, know that when we put our heads together, we can’t be beat!