The 2006 Retail Produce Manager Award Finalists by iwestaaiegjpuiv


									The 2006 Retail Produce Manager Award Finalists:

H-E-B Produce Manager Bobby Alexander is known for his strong leadership and
determination to exceed any goal set for him. Customer satisfaction is especially important
to Bobby, which is why he took the initiative to expand his produce department to include
items that are unique to his local area, such as Ponderosa Lemons, Stem and Leaf Navels,
Cocktail Grapefruit, Grapples, Sugar Cane, and Blood Oranges. He doubled the size of the
organic selection to meet the needs of the modern shopper, and then educated his
employees about the new products during his “Organic Selling Event.” Bobby has lead his
produce team in exceeding sales goals and shaping the customer‟s vision of his produce
department to that of a "market place." Under Bobby‟s mentoring, his produce team
members have been recognized for outstanding service.

DALE BLAKEWAY, Safeway, Inc., Bainbridge Island, WA
Dale Blakeway, produce manager at Safeway, is known for running an efficient and cost
effective produce department, but it is people, not numbers, that he thinks about most.
“Sales goals are important, but you need people to achieve them,” says Dale. Dale gives
regular “healthy eating” presentations at the local elementary and high schools. In the store,
he provides produce department tours for grade school children, educating students of all
ages about how a produce department functions. He uses color and flair in his award-
winning sampling and merchandising programs to attract shoppers to the produce
department. His supervisors rely on his skills and leadership to train new employees, and
they appreciate his team spirit and willingness to help with any project. In addition, he
participates in many community service projects and charitable fundraisers.

GEORGE BRUNDAGE, Clemens Family Market, New Hope, PA
Produce Manager George Brundage uses his produce merchandising talents to provide
customers at Clemens Family Market a quality shopping experience. Sampling and
merchandising are just some ways that George entices shoppers into his produce
department. His daily sampling program is meant to “get the taste in their mouths,” which
George says, “is the key to getting customers to try new items.” In addition, he believes in
educating shoppers, so he informs his customers about product characteristics and
availability. George is also responsible for organizing and collecting special produce
donations for local schools, churches and community events, including the local Special
Olympics program. George earns respect from both his coworkers and his customers
through his honesty and hard work ethic.

MIKE CLAYTON, Bi-Lo, Simpsonville, SC
Bi-Lo Produce Manager Mike Clayton is a role model for delivering high quality, fresh
produce and top notch service, offering customers the best shopping experience possible.
Mike‟s department is a designated “Center of Excellence” where management trainees
receive produce training as part of their preparation for becoming a store manager. In
addition, Mike uses the 5-A-Day Color Way campaign to actively educate customers and
promote healthy eating. He also participates in 5-A-Day tours with local elementary schools.
Mike especially enjoys the creative merchandising part of his job. During a recent promotion,
he set up a fondue fountain for dipping strawberries, which proved to be a success in selling
strawberries. Mike‟s peers view him as a team player and a “produce expert.”

KENNY DALE, Food Lion LLC, Troutman, NC
A 20-year veteran of the produce deparment, Kenny Dale, produce manager at Food Lion,
exhibits leadership and produce skills everyday. Known for his high standards, he insists
that his produce department look its best with freshness, quality, variety and presentation
being his criteria. In order to keep his department looking good around the clock, he has
successfully trained his entire team to duplicate his standards. When asked about customer
service, Kenny responded, ”To be successful in this business, you must be customer
oriented as well as like what you are doing. I love my job and the people I see daily.” So
Kenny greets each and every customer with a smile, and goes that extra step by providing
shoppers with product information, recipes, cooking tips and nutritional facts about produce.

MIKE DICKERSON, Winn Dixie, LaPlace, LA
A long time produce manger with Winn Dixie in the New Orleans area, Mike Dickerson‟s
produce department is a destination for customers and employees alike. Known for his
passion for produce, merchandising techniques and excellent management skills, employees
seek him out for training advice, and customers enjoy his creative, colorful and fresh produce
displays. Mike participates in the 5-A-Day campaign, leading department tours for
elementary and preschool classes. Although he is widely recognized within his company for
running an excellent produce department, he is always looking for ways to improve. As an
example of his never-ending dedication to both his community and his company, Mike has
volunteered to help re-open many hurricane-damaged stores in the New Orleans district.

JOE FREED, Safeway, Inc., Arlington, WA
Safeway Produce Manager Joe Freed uses his more than 20 years experience to deliver the
best customer service possible, which he believes is the key to success. “Nothing is more
important than taking care of customers. Customers are the future of this business,” he says.
Joe uses the 5-A-Day messages to educate parents and kids about healthy eating.
“Promoting healthy eating is always fun because I am helping people take better care of
themselves and helping their children learn to eat right.” So how does Joe work to change
eating habits? “Sampling is the best way to get customers to try new things and to venture
out of their normal routine toward a healthier diet and life.” Joe‟s work reaches beyond the
store as his produce department donates snacks to the Boys and Girls Club after school
program and the Stillaguamish Senior Center.

JERRY HANSEN, Raley’s, Vallejo, CA
Raley‟s Produce Manager Jerry Hansen has worked in the produce industry for 38 years.
Jerry believes that product variety and creative displays are vital tools to promoting fresh
fruits and vegetables. In his display designs, Jerry uses cross-merchandising to combine
fresh fruits and vegetables with grocery and non-food items. He says, “This type of cross
merchandising provides a convenient shopping experience for customers and enhances
impulse purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables.” Jerry‟s excellent customer relationships
are based on outstanding service. “Consumers want the best quality and freshness when
they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Jerry. When a customer suggests the
department carry a specific item, Jerry and his team go the distance to locate and order that
item. In addition, Jerry‟s innovative idea to design and build in-house produce watering hoses
earned him the company‟s President’s Innovation Award.”

TODD HAUBRICH, Roger & Marv’s, Kenosha, WI
Roger & Marv‟s Produce Manager Todd Haubrich focuses on four areas to make his produce
department a success: excellent customer service, providing quality produce, employee
training, and product presentation. A strong supporter of the 5-A-Day campaign, he
aggressively promotes his department through the use of point-of-purchase materials and
education. Twice a year Todd organizes a "Farmer's Market" style produce event complete
with hay bales and festive farm attire. This event has come to be a community favorite. As a
way of introducing new products and developing loyal customers, Todd participates in a
teacher/school sampling program. He recommends produce items, based on their nutritional
value, to teachers and provides samples for their students. Todd‟s passion for produce and
attention to customer service have made him a favorite among customers.

MARK KOLL, Hy-Vee, Inc., Sioux Falls, SD
A 25-year veteran of the Hy-Vee produce department, Mark Koll still enjoys going out of his
way to provide that extra customer service that makes the difference. For example, once
when a customer had a special request for an unusual produce item, Mark researched the
Internet, made some phone calls, and obtained the item, making a loyal customer for life.
His employees are trained to do anything it takes to meet customers‟ needs, and he makes
sure they are up-to-date on product knowledge and that they pay special attention to product
presentation. “I tell our employees, „We‟re not just arranging fruit, we‟re painting a Picasso.‟”
Mark also conducts school tours and takes part in the Heart Healthy store tours conducted
by local dieticians. He even starred in a TV spot promoting fruits and vegetables.

GERALD LAM, Safeway, Inc., Oakland, CA
Safeway Produce Manager Gerald Lam takes merchandising produce to a whole new level.
Using the 5-A-Day campaigns, commodity board promotions, and company merchandising
programs, Gerald and his produce team create appealing, colorful, and easy-to-shop
displays for all occasions. For example, during Cinco de Mayo, Gerald built a lobby display of
tomatoes and avocados with a spill of limes, jalapenos, white onions, guacamole mix, and
recipe cards. At the same time, Gerald ran a cooking demonstration that showed customers
how to make the guacamole using the recipe provided. As part of his commitment to
educating customers about the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, he gives
produce department tours to local school children. Each child receives a 5-A-Day bag filled
with a variety of fruits and recipe cards to take home to their parents.

DEE MABRY, Brookshire Grocery Co., Shreveport, LA
Dee Mabry is produce manager at Brookshire Grocery Co. in Shreveport, LA where his
produce department caters to a wide range of consumer buying habits. Dee will go to any
length to make sure the customers get what they need and want. For example, after special
ordering a sweet onion for a disabled customer, Dee and his wife delivered the onions to the
customer‟s home so as to save her the trip to the store. Whether it is the local gourmet chefs
and restaurants that need specific herbs or the average customer that shops two or three
times a week, they are all given this same type of personal treatment. Dee provides personal
tours for children in the Adopt-A-School program, and his produce department donates
product to various local events. Dee has also earned several company awards for his
leadership and commitment to excellence.

MICHAEL MARTORANA, Albertson’s Jewel-Osco, Grayslake, IL
As a produce manager at Albertson‟s Jewel-Osco, Michael strives to give customers the
greatest variety and freshest produce possible. Using the 5-A-Day messages, Michael visits
local grammar schools and teaches children the benefits of eating healthy. He also invites
local Cub Scout Troops and kindergarten classes to visit his produce department, where he
provides the children with fresh produce samples and information about healthy eating
habits. As just another example of his dedication to building a healthy community through
the increased consumption of produce, Michael‟s department provides fresh produce daily
for the Grayslake High School home economics classes. His department was also chosen for
a company television commercial.

RICHARD MOTT, Bel Air Markets, Elk Grove, CA
Produce Manager Rich Mott is known at Bel Air Markets for his “produce knowledge” and
commitment to customer satisfaction. Richard uses these characteristics to education
shoppers about the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. “We need to be teachers
and mentors to our customers. By helping them live a healthy lifestyle, we have multiple
opportunities to impact our community,” says Richard. He uses the 5-A-Day campaign to
promote healthy eating to both school children and their parents. Richard generates
consumer enthusiasm and demand for produce by designing creative displays both in and
out of the produce department. A Halloween display of a pirate ship hauling a 600 lb.
pumpkin, Santa landing his reindeer on a “roof” of produce gifts, and wine and pear displays
at “Spotlight on Elk Grove” are all examples of how Rich has used his merchandising skills to
promote produce.

CHRIS MUMBY, Hy-Vee, Inc., Marion, IA
Hy-Vee Produce Manager Chris Mumby has everything it takes to climb the corporate ladder,
but it wasn‟t until he “fell in love with produce” that he knew he‟d found a career. “It‟s
exciting, it‟s fast-paced, and I knew it was where I wanted to be,” he says. His department
emphasizes the 5-A-Day messages with signs, banners and tote bags; and he hosts school
tours at least once a month for public schools and home-school groups. Innovation is one of
Chris‟ strengths. He incorporates new food trends that he sees on television cooking shows
in his department‟s weekend demos, during which he enlists the help of the store‟s dietician
to provide nutritional information and recipe ideas. He also works with the manager of
perishables to present a weekly All-You-Can-Eat Vegetarian Buffet in the store‟s restaurant.

The secrets to success for Vons Produce Manager Laraine Ramirez are: creative and
effective merchandising, proper employee training, community involvement and excellent
customer service. As part of a campaign to increase consumption of fresh fruits and
vegetables among children, Laraine created a “5-A-Day produce card” that allowed children
to receive a free “Fruit of the Month” as well as nutritional information about that fruit. The
program exposed children to a wide variety of fruits. Parents were pleased and children
looked forward to a healthy snack. Laraine also leads produce deparment tours for mentally
challenged students to educate them about healthier food choices. She orchestrated a
Halloween pumpkin carving contest for which she charged a nominal entry fee that she
donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

DOYLE ROBINSON, Food City K-VA-T, Kingsport, TN
A 26-year veteran of the produce department, K-VA-T Produce Manager Doyle Robinson
focuses on supporting the local community to build consumer loyalty and to make produce
top-of-mind for shoppers. Doyle encourages local elementary school children to visit his
produce department so he can promote healthy eating through the 5-A-Day messages.
“Getting kids involved is important to developing good eating habits that will last a lifetime,”
says Doyle. It doesn‟t stop there – Doyle takes the 5-A-Day message to high school
students, and also gives away fresh fruit at the county health department, medical
screenings and local sports events. His merchandising displays create excitement and attract
customers from throughout the store, and the cross merchandising that he uses in the store‟s
fresh salad bar has helped increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

JEFF THILL, Hy-Vee, Inc., Waterloo, IA
For Jeff Thill, produce manager at Hy-Vee, it is using produce to make his community
healthier that motivates him to invest extra time and energy into his work. One of the
achievements Jeff is most proud of is being asked to work with three local schools to
implement a federal program to introduce more fruits and vegetables into school lunch
programs for 1,000 students. He meets with the food service director every week to plan
menus, and personally delivers fruits and vegetables to the schools each Monday. He even
convinced Hy-Vee‟s central kitchen facility to produce a 3-oz fruit cup to help schools save
labor and balance their budgets. Jeff is involved in the community in other ways as well,
donating fruits and vegetables to non-profit groups and conducting store tours.

DAVID THOMPSON, The Kroger Company, Fayetteville, GA
In his 18 years in the Kroger produce department, David Thompson has earned the respect
of his managers, community and peers through his commitment to the highest levels of
customer service as well as his success in boosting produce sales through consumer
education, technology-centric innovation and produce merchandising. In the store, David
leverages his vast produce knowledge and interpersonal skills to build long-lasting, personal
relationships with his loyal customers. Beyond the store, he is a community leader in the
fight against childhood obesity, a champion of the 5-A-Day principles and an advocate for
expanding produce availability in local schools. Further, each week, David hosts Special
Education students in the produce department. He has led a company effort to introduce
sophisticated inventory management technologies in produce.

BILL VIRNIG, Hy-Vee, Inc., Brookings, SD
Walk into the produce department at the Hy-Vee store in Brookings, SD and you‟d think you
were in a colorful classroom. That‟s because Bill Virnig, produce manager at the store since
1990, advocates a personal approach to teaching adults and students about the merits of
fresh fruits and vegetables. Along with frequent tours for elementary school children, Bill
works with the store dietician to incorporate produce recipes and information into the store‟s
Kids‟ Cooking School. He reinforces the 5-A-Day messages through signs and product tote
bags, and donates fruit to youth groups of all ages, from kindergarteners through students at
nearby South Dakota State University. Sampling and unique cross-selling opportunities with
other departments are important – BLT sandwiches, hamburgers with onion, and shredded
ham in salads, to name a few.

JIMI WARNER, Brookshire Grocery Co., Lindale, TX
Brookshire Grocery Company Produce Manager Jimi Warner is an aggressive merchandiser
with a creative flare for promotions and sales while still maintaining a profitable department.
Jimi uses an aggressive sampling program to help draw shoppers to the produce department
and increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. He provides produce
department tours for local school children and sponsors various community activities. Jimi
and his produce team focus on quality assurance and sanitation to keep his produce
department clean and customer-friendly. His hard work and dedication have earned him the
respect of his peers, his company and most importantly his customers.

Founded in 1904, United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association's mission is to promote the growth and
success of produce companies and their partners. United is the national trade organization that
represents the interests of growers, shippers, processors, brokers, wholesalers and distributors of
produce, working together with their customers at retail and foodservice, suppliers at every step in the
distribution chain, and international partners. Visit United online at


To top