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Higaki and Van Valkenburg honored at FPFC expo

ANAHEIM, CA — Longtime industry veterans Harry Higaki of Bay City Flower Co. Inc. in Half Moon Bay, CA, and Rich Van Valkenburg of Van Valkenburg & Associates in Capistrano Beach, CA, were honored with their respective industry’s top award at the Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s Southern California Expo, held here July 19 at the Disneyland Hotel.20-RichRich Van Valkenburg (right) of VVA was awarded the FPFC’s Norman H. (Buz) Bolstad Produce Award during the FPFC Southern California Expo. He is shown with Matt Christ of the Allen Lund Co. and Jason Paez of Cal Poly-Pomona.

Higaki is largely credited with opening up supermarkets to floral merchandising when he sold potted mums to Ralphs Grocery Co. in the 1950s. His son and past winner Harrison Higaki presented the FPFC Floral Achievement Award to his father, outlining his personal story and the vital role he played in transitioning the more than 100-year-old company from a cut-flower grower to a provider of potted blooming plants to the mass market.

When 95-year-old Harry Higaki strolled to the podium, he noted that he has been retired for 30 years and indicated that while the award was appreciated, he was a bit dumbfounded by its presentation at this point in his life. But he quickly revealed his continued interest in the floral industry, touting a technology currently being tested that will eliminate the wilting of roses. Higaki called it a “game changer.”14-HarryHarrison Higaki (right) of Bay City Flower Co., presented the 2016 FPFC Floral Achievement Award to his father, Harry.

Van Valkenburg received the Norman H. (Buz) Bolstad Produce Achievement Award, named after one of the founders of the FPPC, who was a longtime Southern California retailer. In fact, Bolstad was one of Van Valkenburg’s early mentors in the industry.

Besides a long career in produce retailing, Van Valkenburg has operated his own food brokerage business for the past decade. He has been a longtime supporter of the FPPC, first serving on the board and the Executive Committee in the 1980s. After increased workload required him to step down from the Executive Committee before serving as chairman in the late 1980s, Van Valkenburg continued to be a constant presence at FPFC events and once again made an appearance on that committee in 2012, serving as chairman of the council in 2014.

The one-day expo, which is the grandfather of the ever-expanding regional produce show movement, attracted 2,000 produce professionals to its location at the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center in Anaheim.

Chef Fabio Viviani gave the keynote speech at the opening breakfast, exhorting the crowd of many in-store produce and floral personnel to go way beyond the bare minimum in doing their jobs. He said that while everyone can’t and shouldn’t be an entrepreneur, everyone is the CEO of themselves and responsible for what they accomplish and how far they go in their careers and lives.

Viviani told of his inspiring career that began as an 11-year-old in a bakery in Florence, Italy. Forced to work at an early age because of a family financial crisis, he made the most of it and has emerged as a rock star in the restaurant business, owning many locations and being featured as a regular on many cooking shows.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Roundy’s George Hurst honored as 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year

The National Mango Board has honored George Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets as its 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year. Each year, the NMB selects four Model Mango Retailers, one from each region of the United States. All of these retailers are honored for their dedication to supporting the growth of the mango category. The winner was announced at the NMB’s Mango Industry Reception on Oct. 18 during PMA Fresh Summit.

The Mango Model Retailer and Mango Retailer of the Year program seeks to identify retailers that go beyond the efforts of a typical retailer in terms of supporting the mango industry.nmbroyGeorge Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets was honored as the 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year on October 18, 2014 in Anaheim, CA. The Mango Model Retailers for 2014 are Chris Keetch of Ahold USA, John Higgins and Mark DeCosta of Costco Wholesale, and Ricardo DiMarzio of Shopper’s Food & Pharmacy. Each of the Mango Model Retailers has personified the following characteristics:

  • They produce impressive mango sales and volume increases
  • Through NMB funding, they engage in effective, high-quality, creative promotions that connect with shoppers on multiple levels
  • They take the initiative to creatively promote mangos without NMB funding, educating consumers about mangos through displays, point-of-sale materials, ads, website, newsletters and other vehicles
  • They are responsive to NMB communications and they follow through on commitments to the NMB
  • They facilitate mango training and inspire associates to handle, merchandise and promote mangos more effectively
  • They are aware of market forces and promote mangos in all seasons

“The mango industry has many heroes and champions at retail. These retailers are our partners helping support the mango industry year round and have become an essential component in accomplishing our mission to increase fresh mango consumption in the U.S.,” Manuel Michel, NMB executive director, said in a press release. “The four finalists for the award really encompass the strong efforts made across the board, making our decision to choose one extremely difficult.”

Hurst had a 24 percent increase in mango volume compared to a 4 percent increase for the region and an 8 percent increase for the nation. He outperformed his regional competition consistently in every quarter of the past year.

“I’ve never seen a retailer get more excited about selling mangos,” Katie Manetti, retail account manager for NMB, said in the press release. “His enthusiasm is just over the moon, and the more success he has with mangos, the more motivated he is to do even better the next time around.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Roundy’s George Hurst honored as 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year

The National Mango Board has honored George Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets as its 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year. Each year, the NMB selects four Model Mango Retailers, one from each region of the United States. All of these retailers are honored for their dedication to supporting the growth of the mango category. The winner was announced at the NMB’s Mango Industry Reception on Oct. 18 during PMA Fresh Summit.

The Mango Model Retailer and Mango Retailer of the Year program seeks to identify retailers that go beyond the efforts of a typical retailer in terms of supporting the mango industry.nmbroyGeorge Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets was honored as the 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year on October 18, 2014 in Anaheim, CA. The Mango Model Retailers for 2014 are Chris Keetch of Ahold USA, John Higgins and Mark DeCosta of Costco Wholesale, and Ricardo DiMarzio of Shopper’s Food & Pharmacy. Each of the Mango Model Retailers has personified the following characteristics:

  • They produce impressive mango sales and volume increases
  • Through NMB funding, they engage in effective, high-quality, creative promotions that connect with shoppers on multiple levels
  • They take the initiative to creatively promote mangos without NMB funding, educating consumers about mangos through displays, point-of-sale materials, ads, website, newsletters and other vehicles
  • They are responsive to NMB communications and they follow through on commitments to the NMB
  • They facilitate mango training and inspire associates to handle, merchandise and promote mangos more effectively
  • They are aware of market forces and promote mangos in all seasons

“The mango industry has many heroes and champions at retail. These retailers are our partners helping support the mango industry year round and have become an essential component in accomplishing our mission to increase fresh mango consumption in the U.S.,” Manuel Michel, NMB executive director, said in a press release. “The four finalists for the award really encompass the strong efforts made across the board, making our decision to choose one extremely difficult.”

Hurst had a 24 percent increase in mango volume compared to a 4 percent increase for the region and an 8 percent increase for the nation. He outperformed his regional competition consistently in every quarter of the past year.

“I’ve never seen a retailer get more excited about selling mangos,” Katie Manetti, retail account manager for NMB, said in the press release. “His enthusiasm is just over the moon, and the more success he has with mangos, the more motivated he is to do even better the next time around.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Roundy’s George Hurst honored as 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year

The National Mango Board has honored George Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets as its 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year. Each year, the NMB selects four Model Mango Retailers, one from each region of the United States. All of these retailers are honored for their dedication to supporting the growth of the mango category. The winner was announced at the NMB’s Mango Industry Reception on Oct. 18 during PMA Fresh Summit.

The Mango Model Retailer and Mango Retailer of the Year program seeks to identify retailers that go beyond the efforts of a typical retailer in terms of supporting the mango industry.nmbroyGeorge Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets was honored as the 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year on October 18, 2014 in Anaheim, CA. The Mango Model Retailers for 2014 are Chris Keetch of Ahold USA, John Higgins and Mark DeCosta of Costco Wholesale, and Ricardo DiMarzio of Shopper’s Food & Pharmacy. Each of the Mango Model Retailers has personified the following characteristics:

  • They produce impressive mango sales and volume increases
  • Through NMB funding, they engage in effective, high-quality, creative promotions that connect with shoppers on multiple levels
  • They take the initiative to creatively promote mangos without NMB funding, educating consumers about mangos through displays, point-of-sale materials, ads, website, newsletters and other vehicles
  • They are responsive to NMB communications and they follow through on commitments to the NMB
  • They facilitate mango training and inspire associates to handle, merchandise and promote mangos more effectively
  • They are aware of market forces and promote mangos in all seasons

“The mango industry has many heroes and champions at retail. These retailers are our partners helping support the mango industry year round and have become an essential component in accomplishing our mission to increase fresh mango consumption in the U.S.,” Manuel Michel, NMB executive director, said in a press release. “The four finalists for the award really encompass the strong efforts made across the board, making our decision to choose one extremely difficult.”

Hurst had a 24 percent increase in mango volume compared to a 4 percent increase for the region and an 8 percent increase for the nation. He outperformed his regional competition consistently in every quarter of the past year.

“I’ve never seen a retailer get more excited about selling mangos,” Katie Manetti, retail account manager for NMB, said in the press release. “His enthusiasm is just over the moon, and the more success he has with mangos, the more motivated he is to do even better the next time around.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Roundy’s George Hurst honored as 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year

The National Mango Board has honored George Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets as its 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year. Each year, the NMB selects four Model Mango Retailers, one from each region of the United States. All of these retailers are honored for their dedication to supporting the growth of the mango category. The winner was announced at the NMB’s Mango Industry Reception on Oct. 18 during PMA Fresh Summit.

The Mango Model Retailer and Mango Retailer of the Year program seeks to identify retailers that go beyond the efforts of a typical retailer in terms of supporting the mango industry.nmbroyGeorge Hurst of Roundy’s Supermarkets was honored as the 2014 Mango Retailer of the Year on October 18, 2014 in Anaheim, CA. The Mango Model Retailers for 2014 are Chris Keetch of Ahold USA, John Higgins and Mark DeCosta of Costco Wholesale, and Ricardo DiMarzio of Shopper’s Food & Pharmacy. Each of the Mango Model Retailers has personified the following characteristics:

  • They produce impressive mango sales and volume increases
  • Through NMB funding, they engage in effective, high-quality, creative promotions that connect with shoppers on multiple levels
  • They take the initiative to creatively promote mangos without NMB funding, educating consumers about mangos through displays, point-of-sale materials, ads, website, newsletters and other vehicles
  • They are responsive to NMB communications and they follow through on commitments to the NMB
  • They facilitate mango training and inspire associates to handle, merchandise and promote mangos more effectively
  • They are aware of market forces and promote mangos in all seasons

“The mango industry has many heroes and champions at retail. These retailers are our partners helping support the mango industry year round and have become an essential component in accomplishing our mission to increase fresh mango consumption in the U.S.,” Manuel Michel, NMB executive director, said in a press release. “The four finalists for the award really encompass the strong efforts made across the board, making our decision to choose one extremely difficult.”

Hurst had a 24 percent increase in mango volume compared to a 4 percent increase for the region and an 8 percent increase for the nation. He outperformed his regional competition consistently in every quarter of the past year.

“I’ve never seen a retailer get more excited about selling mangos,” Katie Manetti, retail account manager for NMB, said in the press release. “His enthusiasm is just over the moon, and the more success he has with mangos, the more motivated he is to do even better the next time around.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

PMA 2014: Industry vet honored with Carey Award

At the beginning of Fresh Summit each year — at the start of the popular brunch general session — PMA honors an industry veteran with the Robert L. Carey award.

Carey was the longtime PMA chief of staff officer that is credited with transforming the trade group during his 38 year tenure. This award presentation is always heart felt and especially so because Carey passed away last year after the 2013 award was given.

“Bob provided the leadership and vision that took this organization from near bankruptcy and less than 100 members to the strong, vibrant global organization it is today.

“In his honor this award recognizes a person who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and an uncommon commitment to PMA and the produce industry,” said Jay Pack, last year’s recipient of the award.

The 2014 award was given to Dick Spezzano, a current consultant and former retailer.

“He made the Vons chain recognized nationwide for best in class for produce merchandising,” said Pack.

After leaving Vons, Spezzano moved to consulting with both retailers and suppliers.

“It’s not an easy transition going from the guy giving out purchase orders to the guy asking for them,” said Pack.

Spezzano participated on many PMA boards and was Chairman of the PMA Board in 1994.

Pack credited Spezzano with a progressive stance on using UPCs in the produce department and PLUs for bulk items.

“The impact of his leadership on the produce electronic identification board was felt across North America and has since spread across the globe.”

PMA also highlighted Spezzano’s work raising money for the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent, the Salad Bars to School campaign and the City of Hope cancer research hospital.

Spezzano was recently named chairman of the board for the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent.

“This is a man who epitomizes what it means to give back to the industry from which he has worked for 50 years.”

Supermarket News

Baker’s IGA owners honored

TGF-FruitImageThe Ohio Grocers Association said Wednesday it will induct Gary and Terrie Baker, owners of of Baker’s IGA, into the Ohio Grocers Hall of Fame at a luncheon scheduled for June 20.

The Hall of Fame is comprised of individuals who have dedicated years of service to Ohio’s food industry. Inductees are nominated by fellow association members and approved by a nominating committee.

Supermarket News

Industry leaders to be honored at Texas Produce Hall of Fame banquet

Six leaders of the Texas produce industry will be honored April 28 at the 2014 Texas Produce Hall of Fame Banquet.

The Produce Hall of Fame was established in 1988 and has since presented 134 living and posthumous awards and 17 Scott Toothaker Awards to men and women who have contributed a large part of their lives to the betterment of the Texas produce industry.

The six men to be inducted at the upcoming banquet include Bill Robertson and Lloyd Miller, well respected growers who contributed significantly to the Texas produce industry. They will be in attendance with their families to receive these awards in person.

Receiving the Hall of Fame Posthumous Awards will be David Peterson and George (Eddie) Edwards, who were well respected independent farmers.

John M. McClung and Ray Prewett will be honored with the Scott Toothaker Award for their dedication and service to the Texas produce industry. The Scott Toothaker Award was established in 1989 for those individuals who are not directly involved in production agriculture, but who have made special contributions to the industry.

The Hall of Fame is considered one of the most treasured events that the Texas International Produce Association holds every two years, because it provides the opportunity to pay tribute to those who have paved the way for the Texas produce industry, along with acting as a fundraiser for the William E. Weeks Agricultural Scholarship that was established to encourage future generations to carry on the hard work of past leaders.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Walmart, Ahold, P&G execs honored

Hall of Famers from left to right: Murray, Keptner and Eddleman.

Walmart’s Andy Murray, Ahold’s Erik Keptner and P&G’s Julie Eddleman were inducted into the Shopper Marketing Hall of Fame at the Shopper Marketing Summit Tuesday night.


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Keptner is Ahold’s EVP of marketing; Murray, SVP, Creative at Walmart; and Eddleman, marketing director at Procter & Gamble.

Each was chosen for fostering best practices in marketing.

Keptner leads brand management, marketing, advertising, public and community relations, customer-specific marketing, consumer and business insights, and “own brand” functions. He also is a member of Ahold USA Executive Board.

Murray oversees Walmart’s U.S. circular development, retailtainment, in-store TV, and the development of both corporate and co-operative ideas. Before joining Walmart, Murray served as founder and CEO of Mercury 11, a marketing agency.

Eddleman leads P&G’s North America brand operations. Her responsibilities include media, branded entertainment, P&G’s Ethnic Center of Excellence, sports marketing, direct-to-consumer communication and sampling, customer-focused multi-brand programs, the Shopper Marketing Center of Excellence, and in-store materials design and execution across all brands.

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Retail Stars to be honored at United Fresh 2014

TGF-FruitImageThe United Fresh Produce Association is now accepting nominations for the 2014 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards program. The program will honor 25 outstanding retail produce managers at the United Fresh 2014 convention June 10-13 in Chicago.

The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program pays special recognition to produce managers on the front line in supermarkets working every day to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Established in 2005, this will mark the 10th year of the program, which has been generously supported by founding sponsor Ready Pac Foods Inc.

Since the program’s inception, 200 produce managers from 70 different retail banners have been honored for their commitment to customer satisfaction, innovative merchandising, produce-related community outreach and recognition among company peers. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 program; nomination forms may be accessed online and must be received by Feb. 28.

“This program is an incredible opportunity for retailers everywhere to put forth their top produce managers as a chance for them to be recognized as leaders in their field,” said Chairman of United’s Retail-Foodservice Board Randy Scott, category manager produce for Delhaize America. “For the winning produce managers, this is more than an award. This is an affirmation of their hard work and a thank you for their tremendous commitment to our industry.”

This year, 25 award winners, along with their corporate produce directors, will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to the United Fresh 2014 convention. The winners will be honored at the Produce Celebration Gala on Wednesday, June 11, where five grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $ 1,000 cash prize.

“Ready Pac takes great pride in recognizing the industry’s leading produce managers through this program,” said Tony Sarsam, CEO of Ready Pac Foods Inc. “These men and women are the face of our industry to the consumer and we greatly appreciate their exceptional work and commitment.”

“It has been amazing to see the growth of this program and the positive impact it has had, not only on the winners, but on their companies, and the broader retail and produce industries,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. “We are incredibly grateful to Ready Pac for their support of this program over the past 10 years and look forward to making 2014 a spectacular experience.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Ahold Honored for Supplier Diversity

CARLISLE, Pa. — Professional Woman’s Magazine has named Ahold USA among the “Top Supplier Diversity Programs for Women” for 2013 as a result of the company’s commitment to working with diverse and women-owned businesses, Ahold said Wednesday.


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This 14th annual review is an evaluation of the nation’s employers, initiatives, government agencies and educational institutions, compiled from market research, independent research, diversity conference participation and survey responses.

Ahold USA’s signature efforts to work with local and diverse businesses include hosting annual trade local/diverse business opportunity fairs, events which strengthen the company’s connection to prospective local agricultural and diverse businesses. 2013 events were held in February in Quincy, Mass., and last month in Carlisle, Pa.

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“As a responsible retailer, we continue to maintain our strong commitment to developing business opportunities with women- and minority-owned companies who can supply their products and services to our customers,” Jodie Daubert, senior vice president, sales development, Ahold USA, said in a statement. “We’re pleased to be nationally recognized by Professional Woman’s Magazine and proud to work with these companies to offer their products and services in our stores.”

During the 2013 Quincy and Carlisle events a total of 81 companies were given the opportunity to have their products reviewed by Ahold USA for potential placement through its retail divisions in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Attendees included representatives of women- and minority-owned businesses.

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DeLyser honored by California Avocado Society

The California Avocado Society presented its 2013 Award of Honor to California Avocado Commission Vice President of Marketing Jan DeLyser at its 98th annual meeting Sept. 28 in Ventura, CA.

“Jan DeLyser has been specifically focused on the California avocado industry for the past 15 years,” Chris Ambuul, an avocado grower and president of the CAS, said in making the presentation. “Her entry into the California avocado industry came Ambuul-DeLyserChris Ambuul presented the California Avocado Society’s 2013 Award of Honor to Jan DeLyser. at a difficult time, when foreign imports cast an ominous shadow over our livelihoods. In just 15 years, U.S. consumption has increased five-fold and we are still in business. Jan hasn’t just left a mark on our industry. She is a big reason why we are all still here.”

Ambuul noted that the CAS award recognizes outstanding contribution and dedication to the California avocado industry. He shared comments about DeLyser from industry leaders, including Tom Bellamore of CAC, Rob Wedin of Calavo, Phil Henry of Henry Avocado, John Dmytriw of Index Fresh, Ross Wileman of Mission Produce, Bryan Silbermann of the Produce Marketing Association and Scott Bauwens of WestPak.

Bob Lucy of Del Rey Avocado, who is also CAC Marketing Advisory Committee Chairman, commented, “Maybe it was Jan’s Midwest upbringing that made her so friendly and easy to be around. Maybe it was her Midwest roots that made her so credible. Maybe it was her Midwest values that made her so loyal to her colleagues. But, most importantly, maybe it was the Midwest weather that got Jan to Southern California. Our gain, their loss.”

The California Avocado Society was founded May 15, 1915, at a meeting held at the Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles. It is CAS’ mission to promote efficiency of production and orderly marketing toward assuring long term profitability for the business of avocado growing.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

In-Store Programs to Be Honored

CHICAGO — Kraft Foods, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser are among dozens of finalists in the Design of the Times competition.

The Path to Purchase Institute will announce the Gold, Platinum and Best of the Times winners during an awards reception tonight at the Shopper Marketing Expo.

The Design of the Times honors the most effective and innovative in-store marketing solutions, from traditional P-O-P displays to digital and mobile solutions.

Click here to review a  full list of the Design of the Times finalists.

The competition is open to all members of the industry, including consumer product manufacturers; retailers; advertising, marketing and sales promotion agencies; P-O-P design firms; package design firms; and digital, mobile, coupons, event, sampling and other companies.

All channels are represented, including supermarkets, convenience and drug stores, and mass merchandisers.

Entries were submitted in one of eight retail channels and 16 activation tactics, such as endcap displays and digital signage.

Read more: Collection of Best Practices Published

Consumer product marketers and retail executives will judge entries based on the how well the submissions command attention, connect with the shopper, convey information and close the sale.

All nominees can be viewed in the “Design of the Times” gallery on the show floor today and tomorrow from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Click here for additional Shopper Marketing Expo coverage

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Ready Pac honored with Walmart’s Excellence in Sustainability Award

In recognition of Ready Pac’s progressive efforts to actively reduce its carbon footprint with sustainable initiatives throughout its business, Walmart presented Ready Pac Foods Inc. with the prestigious Excellence in Sustainability Award. Chet Rutledge, director of private brand packaging at Walmart, honored Ready Pac during this year’s eighth Annual Walmart & Sam’s Club Sustainable Packaging Exposition held in Bentonville, AR.

The award recognized both Ready Pac and Clear Lam for packaging innovations developed for the Peel & Reseal Tray used for their mixed greens clamshell containers. The trays are a consumer and environmentally friendly development that sets a new standard for salad packaging. It’s easy to open and keeps lettuce fresh while using one-third less plastic — allowing for an extra layer on each pallet during transport.

“The Peel-Reseal project is a great example of the collaborative work with Ready Pac and their packaging supplier, Clear Lam,” Rutledge said. “Not only does this packaging system use less material, it is more efficient throughout the supply chain. This is a project that I will use as a model for future projects.”

More information about Ready Pac’s involvement in sustainable initiatives is available at http://www.readypac.com/our-company/sustainability/.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Casazza, Higaki honored at FPFC Expo

ANAHEIM, CA — Apio’s Mike Casazza and Harrison Higaki of Bay City Flower Co. were honored with the annual Fresh Produce & Floral Council produce and floral awards, respectively, at the FPFC’s Southern California Expo, held Tuesday, July 16, at the Disneyland Hotel, here.

The 1,400 attendees were also treated to a rousing keynote address by former National Football League Quarterback Joe Theismann during the awards breakfast. Theismann preached a message of “embracing change and seizing the opportunities when they are presented. He relayed a story of how his career took a drastic turn during one Monday Night Football game when he suffered a compound fracture that ended his playing days.

Marty JoeMarty Craner of B&C Fresh Sales representing DLJ Produce, with former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who was the breakfast keynote speaker.At the time, which was the mid-1980s, he said he was an arrogant egotist heading in the wrong direction as a person. He was forced to embrace the change and he has carved a very successful post-player career. Today he owns, controls or is a partner in 14 different businesses.

Theismann urged the crowd to write down their personal, professional, spiritual and financial goals, and he is clearly a big believer in visualization as a path to achieving those goals. He told the crowd that enthusiasm and confidence are important keys and that he has never tasted failure, “only educational experiences that didn’t go my way.”

FPFC Chairman Casazza, who served as the emcee of the morning session, told the crowd it was the “best keynote address” ever at this event, which is more than two decades old, and the crowd clearly agreed.

Just prior to Theismann’s speech, Casazza became the first-ever current FPFC chairman to receive the Norman H. (Buz) Bolstad Produce Award. Last year’s recipient, Connie Stukenberg of CS Sales and Marketing For Results, cited Casazza’s devotion to the industry, the FPFC and his family, and said he “firmly believes in the adage that a man’s word is his bond.”

The award is presented annually to an industry leader that is materially involved in both the success of the industry and the FPFC.

Casazza has had a long career of innovation for several companies, including Apio, where he has spent more than a decade and is currently the executive vice president of sales and marketing. His mark has also been left on the FPFC where he has worked to alter and improve several events and has been a board member and officer for a half-dozen years.

Casazza was surrounded by his family at the podium and said he felt truly blessed to have such a great family and be in such a great industry.

Higaki received the FPFC Floral Achievement Award, which was presented by last year’s winner, Chris Robinson of The Pinery. Robinson said that Higaki is a “perfectionist” where “quality is job one.” He said he has a passion for flowers and his innovative ways have changed retail floral. He added that he truly lives the company slogan, which is to “bring beauty to life.”

“I am very touched and very moved at my core” in receiving the award, Higaki said. He called it a “deep privilege and honor to sell flowers,” adding that while running a business is important, the true calling of the floral industry is to “enrich and bring beauty to the lives of others.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines