Tony Freytag, United Fresh Immediate Past Chairman and Executive Vice President of Crunch Pak, Cashmere, WA, has announced the slate of new officers and directors nominated to serve on the United Fresh Produce Association Board of Directors. These changes will be made effective at its April 17, 2018 meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“Our organization thrives on the strength and diversity of the leadership on the United Fresh Board of Directors,” said President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “This slate of new Board members, along with those returning to the Board, will provide a strong representation and leadership of our industry.”
Ascending to Chairman of the Board is Cindy Jewell, Vice President of Marketing, California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, CA. Cindy is responsible for strategic planning and developing and executing all marketing and communications programs for California Giant. A key component of her work includes a social media platform and image campaign tied to inbound marketing engagement with consumers and building brand loyalty. She leads the company’s issues management and serves as the company spokesperson with consumers and the media. Prior to joining California Giant, Cindy served as Executive Vice President of the California Strawberry Commission, where she worked for 19 years. She is a graduate of Class 30 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.
Nominated as Chairman-Elect is Greg Corrigan, Senior Director of Produce and Floral for Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, Sacramento, CA. Greg began his career in the grocery industry in 1984 working for Bel Air Markets as he attended Sacramento State University where he achieved his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. He served as a produce manager at store level for nine years, and in 1998 was promoted to District Produce and Floral Supervisor overseeing the store level operations for produce and floral in the South Division for Raley’s. In 2000, Greg was promoted to Director of Produce and Floral where his responsibilities included overseeing all procurement and merchandising for the four banner companies including Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill and Food Source. Greg has served on many boards and committees for the produce and floral industry including the United Fresh Board from 2012-2016, PMA Retail Board, the Fresh Produce and Floral Council Board and the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board. Today Greg continues to oversee all the procurement and merchandising for the 128-store chain operating in Northern California and Northern Nevada. Greg will assume the Chairmanship of United Fresh in 2019.
Danny Dumas, Vice President N.A. Sales & Product Management, Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., Coral Gables, FL., will continue to serve in an ongoing term as Secretary‐Treasurer.
Current United Chairman of the Board, Susan Reimer-Sifford, Castellini Group of Companies in Newport, KY, will move to the position of Immediate Past Chairman and remain on the Board and the Executive Committee.
The following industry leaders have been nominated to serve as new members of the United Fresh Board for a two-year term beginning April 2018:
Mason Arnold, known as the “Veggie Nerd” of Cece’s™ Veggie Noodle Co. in Austin, TX, is a serial entrepreneur with fresh food, organics and sustainability always at the core. His current venture was founded in 2015 and is a pioneer brand in making high-quality, fresh pasta out of vegetables. Prior to his current company, Mason founded Greenling.com, the first and largest Local/Organic fresh food and grocery delivery service in Texas serving all major metro areas. A longtime Organic agriculture activist, Mason drafted legislation and helped create the Organic Advisory Board to the Texas Department of Agriculture. He was named ‘Eco Leader of the Year’ by the Austin Business Journal in 2010. Mason and his businesses have been recognized with awards from United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association and 25 different business awards such as ‘Best Local Food Company’ nine years in a row by the Austin Chronicle, and business innovation awards by PC Magazine, Dell and more.
Luca Ascari is Vice President, Sales for ABL SPA in Cavezzo, Modena, Italy. Luca was raised in a family with a passion for technology and is the son of a second-generation mechanical engineering company based in Italy. After completing his education, he began working at the family business holding various positions. He dedicated most of his initial attention to purchasing and supply chain, developing significant abilities to improve processes while keeping quality and customer focus. The past 10 years he has taken lead of the sales team across the regions and is responsible for the strategic development of the sales plan worldwide.
John Gates is President of Lancaster Foods, Inc. in Jessup, MD. John has been involved in the wholesale food and retail food store business since the age of 10 through his uncle’s operation, Hesser Brothers, in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He founded Lancaster Foods in 1986, prior to its acquisition by Guest Services, and has been a principal force in Lancaster’s dynamic growth. He earned a B.S. degree from Penn State University in 1982 and subsequently received the Certified Public Account (CPA) designation. Prior to entering the produce business full-time, John worked for Arthur Andersen as an auditor.
Richard Gonzales is Vice President Global Produce Sourcing for Walmart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, AR. Rich focuses on sourcing produce for the U.S. Walmart businesses. He oversees teams located in six offices in the U.S. and four offices throughout Latin America. These teams oversee the sourcing, logistics and grower development for producers located throughout these regions. Prior to joining Walmart in 2011, Rich held various senior level positions with medium-to-large scale produce-related businesses in the U.S. and Canada. He has held senior level positions in virtually all processes in the production and distribution of fresh produce including, farming, sourcing, manufacturing, finance, sales and marketing, and logistics. Rich has a BS in Industrial Technology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an MBA from Columbia University.
Eric Halverson is Chief Executive Officer of Black Gold Farms in Grand Forks, ND. He was raised on his 4th generation family farm in rural North Dakota and attended North Dakota State University graduating with a BS in Agricultural and Bio-Systems Engineering. In 2014, Eric succeeded his father, Gregg, as CEO of Black Gold Farms, a multi-state farming operation focused on potato production, farming in excess of 25,000 acres, in 11 different states across the U.S., Eric has attended The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP) at Texas A&M and the Executive Development Program at the Wharton School of Business and is currently enrolled in their General Management Program. He serves as a member of the Association of Agricultural Production Executives (AAPEX), where he served as President in 2017, is a current board member of Potatoes USA and is the current Chairman of the Board of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. Eric has been nominated as Vice-Chairman of the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board.
Jeff Huckaby is President of Grimmway Enterprises Inc. in Arvin, CA. He has been with the company since 1998 and brings more than 28 years of experience in farming management. Before assuming the role of President in 2016, he served as Executive Vice President with responsibilities for sales, production and farming for all Grimmway Farms products. Additionally, Huckaby served as General Manager of the company’s organic division following the acquisition of Cal-Organic Farms in 2001. His leadership was integral in establishing Grimmway Farms’ global organic business and leadership in the category. Prior to joining the company, he held multiple leadership roles with Bolthouse Farms. Huckaby is a member of the College of Agriculture Advisory Council at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Bakersfield. Jeff was born and raised in Bakersfield, and is a fourth-generation farmer, with deep roots in California and the industry.
John Newell is Chief Operating Officer of Windset Farms in Delta, BC, Canada. John has served as chief operating officer at Windset Farms since 1996 when he and his brother Steve built their first greenhouse. In his role, he helps drive the company’s vision and is responsible for market development, vendor relations, product packaging, overall brand management and marketing. He has intimate knowledge of all aspects of greenhouse management. A resident of Vancouver, Canada, John began life on the farm at an early age, working on the family poultry farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He holds a BS degree in microbiology from the University of British Columbia.
Ramon Paz-Vega is Chairman of Avocados From Mexico based in Irving, TX. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Agribusiness and Ph.D. in International Management and Business Ethics from the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey and his MBA from Universidad La Salle. Ramon was a professor at the Universidad Don Vasco for more than 15 years and for six years at the Business School of the Universidad de Monterrey. For more than 20 years, Ramon has worked in the production and exportation of fresh fruits and was appointed as CEO of several exporting firms. Currently, he is an avocado grower in both Michoacán and Jalisco states in Mexico; Strategic Advisor to APEAM; Vice Chairman of the Board of the International Alliance of Fruit and Vegetable Exporters for the Advancement of Social Responsibility in Mexico (AHIFORES); and President of “Paz Mendoza y Asociados” and “Sistemas Fruticolas”, companies dedicated to consulting in agribusiness and fruit exports.
Heather Shavey is Assistant Vice President General Merchandise Manager at Costco Wholesale in Issaquah, WA. Heather started her career at Costco Wholesale working on the weekends while attending high school and continued working for Costco Wholesale while attending the University of Washington. In 1990, she accepted her first position in buying at Costco at the Corporate Home Office. Heather started in buying at the entry level, moving her way up through the organization and was promoted to her current position in 2016. Heather and her 40-member team manage the produce business at Costco. Together they work to excel in the procurement of produce both locally and globally. Heather also coordinates the Global Regions of Costco in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia, UK, Spain, France, Canada, and Mexico in the purchasing of produce. Heather was selected to represent the Company and be a part of the Cohort of the Seattle University Executive Leadership Program. Heather was recognized as the United Fresh Women In Produce honoree in 2009.
Current Board members nominated to new positions of service on Market Segment Boards include:
• Chairman, Grower-Shipper Board – John Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, Beachside Produce, LLC, Guadalupe, CA
The following officers of Market Segment Boards and Councils will continue their service on the Board:
• Chairman, Fresh-Cut Processor Board – Brian Jenny, Vice President/GM – Value Added Fresh, Naturipe Farms, LLC, Sugar Hill, GA
• Vice Chairman, Fresh-Cut Processor Board – Raina Nelson, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain, Renaissance Food Group, Rancho Cordova, CA
• Chairman, Wholesaler Distributor Board – Jackie Caplan Wiggins, Vice President and COO, Frieda’s, Inc., Los Alamitos, CA
• Vice Chairman, Wholesaler Distributor Board – Tom Brugato, President/Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Coast Fruit Company, Portland, OR
• Chairman, Retail-Foodservice Board – Shannon Mikulskis, Program Lead, Distribution, Chick-fil-A, Inc., Atlanta, GA
• Vice Chairman, Retail-Foodservice Board – Jeff Cady, Director of Produce & Floral, Tops Friendly Markets, Buffalo, NY
• Chairman, Finance and Business Management Council – Jason Pounds, Treasurer/Secretary, Hardie’s Fresh Foods, Dallas, TX
• Chairman, Food Safety & Technology Council – Drew McDonald, VP Quality & Food Safety, Taylor Farms, Inc., Taylor Fresh Foods, Salinas, CA
• Chairman, Government Relations Council – Charles Wingard, Director of Field Operations, Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Inc., Pelion, SC
• Chairman, Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council – Mark Munger, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, 4Earth Farms, Los Angeles, CA
• Chairman, Supply Chain Logistics Council – Jeff Moore, Vice President of Sales, Midwest Region, The Tom Lange Company, Inc., St. Louis, MO
• Chairman, United Fresh Start Foundation – Phil Muir, President & CEO, Muir Copper Canyon Farms
The following At-Large Board Members will continue their service on the Board: Brian Antle, Plant Tape; Jerry Callahan, Albertsons Companies; Michael Castagnetto, Robinson Fresh; Christopher Ciruli, Ciruli Brothers, LLC; Bret Erickson, J & D Produce, Inc.; Sarah Frey-Talley, Frey Farms, LLC; Mark Girardin, North Bay Produce, Inc.; Christian Harris, US Foods; James Hay, CORTEVA Agriscience DowDuPont; Doug Kling, Village Farms International, Inc.; Mark Klompien, United Potato Growers of America; Bob Mast, CMI Orchards; Michael Muzyk, Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc.; Howard Roeder; Brent Scattini, Mission Produce, Inc. and Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Seald Sweet International/Greenyard USA.
Board members concluding service at the April 2018 meeting include: Immediate Past Chairman Tony Freytag, Crunch Pak; Mark Campion, Taylor Farms, Inc.; Michael Cochran, Walmart Stores Inc.; Rudi Groppe, Heinzen Manufacturing International; Steve Jarzombek; Paul Mastronardi, Mastronardi Produce, Ltd.; David McInerney, FreshDirect, LLC; Bob Meek, Onions 52, Inc.; Ken Moynihan, Compac; Mike Orf, Hy-Vee, Inc, and Mario Steta, Driscoll’s.
“I’d like to extend a personal thanks to all of the Board members who are concluding their service at this upcoming meeting, including our Immediate Past Chairman Tony Freytag who provided exceptional leadership to our organization during his many years of service,” said Stenzel. “With an industry as diverse and complex as ours, we are grateful to the dedicated members of our Board who have helped navigate the challenges in our industry and further advance our organization. We appreciate the time and service they have dedicated to United Fresh and the industry.
“I’d also like to personally thank Tony and Board Development Committee members Susan Reimer-Sifford, Cindy Jewell, Danny Dumas, John Jackson, Raina Nelson, Tom Brugato and Jeff Cady for their work this year in nominating an impressive slate of officers and Board members. Their job was to help develop a strong and representative leadership on the Board for the coming years to drive our association forward, and I commend them for developing this strong slate of industry leaders,” Stenzel said.