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SPC to honor Peter F. Pero III

by Gordon M. Hochberg | January 07, 2010
The Southeast Produce Council announced Jan. 5 that Peter F. Pero III of Pero Family Farms will receive its 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award this March.

Mr. Pero will be honored during the council's annual retail and foodservice conference and exposition, scheduled for March 4-6 in Tampa, FL. The award will be presented Saturday, March 6, at the keynote luncheon.

Mr. Pero was born Sept. 7, 1939, in Brant, NY, the second of four children. The family farm started in 1908 after his grandfather immigrated to western New York from Sicily, according to information provided by the company. Pero Bros. Farm was formed in 1936 by his father and his father's brother, Charlie.

Mr. Pero worked most of his life in the family farm business. "Not unlike a lot of people in that time frame, he never graduated from high school," instead putting all his efforts into his work, Brad Bailey, executive director of procurement at Pero Family Farms, told The Produce News Jan. 6.

As president of Pero Sons Farms, Mr. Pero built and ran one of the larger green bean operations in the United States, which grew to over 6,000 acres.

The company expanded to south Florida in 1981, where Mr. Pero developed his proprietary variety of bell peppers. Today, Pero Family Farms, headquartered in Delray Beach, FL, is a fully integrated farming and marketing organization with over 11,000 acres in both Florida and western New York under its farming management.

Peter Frank Pero married his wife, Lucille, on April 23, 1960. They are residents of Delray Beach but also spend the summer months in their home in Brant, NY. They have five children, all involved in managing the business. Peter IV is chief executive officer, Angela is president, Frank is vice president, Charles is vice president of Pero Farms (the farming operation) and Christine heads human resources.

"They're all very involved in it, and now their kids are getting ready to come in also," said Mr. Bailey. "It's quite a family story."

Although "technically retired," Mr. Pero can still be seen at the office virtually every day, according to Mr. Bailey, who has known Mr. Pero for more than 20 years. Very often he is "the first one in & and you definitely see him after dinner."

Mr. Pero is the third recipient of the award. He follows Joe McGee, founder of L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, who received the council's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008; and Ferdinand S. Duda -- a third-generation member of the family of Andrew Duda, who founded A. Duda & Sons in 1926 -- who was honored in 2009.

The award is co-sponsored by the Southeast Produce Council and The Produce News.