ANAHEIM, CA — Jack Gyben of Progressive Produce in Los Angeles and Deborah Jackson of Supervalu/Albertsons received the top annual awards for produce and floral, respectively, at the Fresh Produce & Floral Council Expo, held July 19, here.
Mr. Gyben, who is a partner at Progressive and also is the firm’s vice president of marketing and business development, was cited for his tireless devotion to the industry and particularly to the FPFC. He has served several terms on the board of directors and was chairman of the organization in 2006.
He and his company are also very devoted to the Produce Marketing Association Foundation for Industry Talent program, with Mr. Gyben having served as a mentor for several students over the years and his firm regularly sponsoring the PMA FIT reception and educational program that is held in conjunction with the FPFC Expo every year.
Bill Laliberte, president of WJL Distributors in Thousand Oaks, CA, presented the Norman H. (Buzz) Bolstad Produce Award to Mr. Gyben. Mr. Laliberte said that the award recognizes the great leadership that Mr. Bolstad provided to the industry throughout his career, including being a founding member of the FPFC.
Mr. Gyben characterized his tenure with Progressive Produce as “working for the best company I have ever worked for.”
He came from the packaged food side of the business 20 years ago and said, “I’d died and gone to heaven when I came to the fresh produce industry.”
Ms. Jackson, senior floral field buyer for the western United States for Supervalu, was recognized for her service on behalf of the floral industry.
She started in the floral industry on the wholesale side of the business but soon moved to the retail end with Sacramento, CA-based Raley’s Supermarkets. She remained there for about a decade throughout the 1990s before joining Supervalu in 2000.
Ms. Jackson, a member of the FPFC board of directors, was overcome with emotion when she accepted the award and said that she loved the industry and greatly appreciated the many people with whom she has worked over the years.
The FPFC Expo is a one-day event that this year drew close to 165 companies and more than 1,200 attendees. It is the longest-running regional produce show in the country and is designed to appeal to in-store produce and floral personnel in the retail and foodservice sectors.
Dozens of chainstores and independents as well as many foodservice operators, mostly from the Southern California region, were represented by executives, supervisors and front-line personnel at the all-day affair.
Basketball legend Bill Walton gave the keynote address at the opening breakfast session. Mr. Walton, who is known for his gift of gab as well as his basketball talents, kept the audience enthralled for more than an hour as he spoke of life’s lessons. His speech paid tribute to coaching legend John Wooden, who was Mr. Walton’s college coach as well as his life-long mentor.
Speaking of Mr. Wooden’s “pyramid of success,” Mr. Walton told the audience about the many building blocks of that pyramid, including loyalty, friendship, initiative and the elements of teamwork. He said that the first three tiers are all about preparation and the last two are about performance.
Mr. Walton urged the crowd to look in the mirror every day and make sure they are giving the best effort possible. That, he said, was the lesson that Mr. Wooden drummed into his team over and over again.