United Fresh and Dole Honor Retail Produce Managers Ron Showers From Roundy’s, Mike Giberson From Niemann Foods, and Amy Lincoln From Coborn’s
UNITED STATES - “A common thread I’ve noticed with Produce Managers I have met personally, is that they are truly humble individuals who have a respect for their profession and want to put their best into their job everyday,” Jeff Oberman, Vice President of Trade Relations for the United Fresh Produce Association, tells me as we discuss one of the legs of his tour. “They’re enthusiastic about fresh produce and that energy drives them to stay informed in order to provide customers with the most educated and knowledgeable service possible.”
When I am referring to Jeff’s tour, I am talking about the months-long event planned by United Fresh in partnership with representatives from Dole Food Company, which took them to each Produce Manager honoree’s home turf from Savemart to Sobeys. With United Fresh in Chicago right around the corner, the association is celebrating the 12th year of the United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards with Dole Food Company as the program’s Corporate Sponsor.
As we previously reported, Hy-Vee and Schnucks were two of the 25 stops on the tour and as we move toward next week’s trade show, I’d like to introduce three more of the many Produce Managers honored: Ron Showers, Produce Manager, Roundy’s Supermarkets; Mike Giberson, Produce Manager, Niemann Foods; and Amy Lincoln, Produce Manager, Coborn’s.
The hustle and bustle of the busy summer shopping season is upon us, and as I spoke with Justin Heffernan, Roundy’s Director of Produce Merchandising and Procurement, he assured me that their honored Produce Manager, Ron, was more than prepared to meet any challenge.
“Ron runs an outstanding produce department day-in and day-out,” Justin shared with me. “Whether he’s training new associates and managers, greeting loyal customers in his department, or merchandising fresh produce through creative displays, Ron is always a positive mentor, leader, and role model. We are very lucky to have him on our team as he truly represents the best of Roundy’s!”
Not only do these Produce Managers exhibit strong leadership, but one of the major criteria used in selecting the 25 winning Retail Produce Managers is their community service. This year’s honorees have showcased these skills from hosting tours in their stores for community youth, to visiting WIC program offices to share with moms how they can now purchase fruits and vegetables with their benefits and offering a free produce item to kids who find a ‘decorated’ piece of fruit in their departments. And the impact they have on the store and the community does not stop there.
Jeff Patterson, Niemann Foods’ Produce Director, also shared the pride the company feels for having one of its own recognized, and spoke to me about Mike’s continued leadership and dedication to perfection.
“I have only been with the company a short while, but I met Mike my first week aboard. I walked into Mike’s store with my boss and the first words out of my mouth were, ‘This guy could run a produce department for any store in the country!’” Jeff said. “His attention to detail results in a department maintained in perfect condition. Mike understands his customers and excels in providing them with the quality, variety, and service that keeps them coming back. Mike and his well-trained team produce solid sales growth year after year. I am honored to work with such a professional.”
Tom Williams, Director of Produce and Floral Merchandising for Coborn’s, also had many wonderful things to say about its honored Produce Manager, Amy, and how she doesn’t just meet the standard, she defines it.
“When a guest enters our Ramsey, MN, Coborn’s store, they are greeted by a creatively merchandised display of quality produce that grabs their attention. As they continue into the store and make their way to the produce department they will pass produce that has been cross-merchandised in other areas of the store. Once in the department, they are greeted by the produce team and a thoughtfully merchandised department. This is a result of Amy and her leadership with her team,” Tom says.
At Coborn’s, the company empowers its employees to “Be Remarkable,” and Amy is a great example to her team and Coborn’s guests of what it means to Be Remarkable.
“The guest experience is more than just good quality and merchandising because of all the little extras Amy creates,” Tom adds. “For example, she has little produce figurines that she hides within the department and if a child is able to find them, they are awarded with a piece of fruit or another prize. Amy even created a poster that pictures what they are seeking. Amy never does the minimum required, but rather always looks for an opportunity to do more and takes great pride in her guests, her team and her store!”
As we move closer to the 2016 United Fresh convention, Bil Goldfield, Dole’s Director of Corporate Communications, reminds me that a Produce Manager’s position is less of a job and more of a passion; something that United Fresh will be recognizing at this year’s Gala Dinner Celebration at the annual convention to be held in Chicago on June 20-22.
Bil tells me, "Although the award ceremony is just one night, the Produce Manager's commitment to our industry is 24/7, 365. So we are trying to make this recognition and expression of our gratitude a bigger deal. We are visiting the winners in their stores in advance of the United Fresh Convention, accompanied by their leadership, a United Fresh representative, and Dole representatives. We want them to know how important they are to Dole."
Hope to see you all next week at United Fresh 2016 in Chicago, Illinois!