Richard Lutes was born in Lynn, MA, on the north shore of Boston, and spent his first 12 years there. Then his father decided to move the family to the Twin Cities, in search of affordable college educations for his eight children. (Did he bother to research what the winters are like?)
Richard earned an associate degree in pre-architecture from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in education from Winona State University. After graduating he spent four years as an airborne parachute rigger and an air cargo airdrop specialist in the Army Reserve and the Minnesota Air National Guard.
Throughout college he’d worked part-time for a Minneapolis wholesale florist supply and they offered him full-time employment after his military duty. This sounded like a better option to him than teaching social studies to high school students.
Richard’s career has encompassed all aspects of the floral industry. As a wholesale florist he has extensive experience in sales, customer service, procurement, operations, logistics, supply chain, marketing and management. He assisted his wife in all areas of her retail flower shop, and he was even a California fresh flower grower and production manager. He’s been the general manager of a large orchid nursery and has owned his own floral sales and marketing company.
Richard joined The Produce News in 2013 as floral editor and director of floral marketing. He is excited about the opportunity to grow in the areas of advertising and writing about the floral industry.
In his free time (there is such a thing?), Richard enjoys fine woodworking, pen-and-ink drawing, DIY projects, Minnesota Twins baseball, fishing in as many of the state’s 10,000 lakes as possible, and dreaming about living somewhere warm. Richard and his wife, Susan, live in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley, MN. They are the parents of two grown daughters and two grown sons, who they thought were all successfully launched until the youngest one recently boomeranged.
Maggie Giuffrida was born in Demarest, NJ, but spent the majority of her life growing up in Sierra Vista, AZ. Maggie attended The University of Arizona, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After graduating in December of 2010, Maggie headed back to the East Coast for a summer internship at TWIST magazine.
Before joining The Produce News, Maggie worked as an assistant features editor at Savvy magazine, as a business apprentice at the Arizona Daily Star and most recently as an online editor at Bauer Publishing in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
In her free time, Maggie enjoys reading, writing, exploring her new surroundings, practicing yoga and attempting to cook!
Terry Sokol was born in Queens, NY, and grew up in northwest New Jersey, where she began her career in journalism in the late 1970s as a beat reporter and editor for a number of daily and weekly newspapers, including the Daily Record in Morristown, NJ, and the Paterson News. Before coming to The Produce News, she worked for 17 years at Travel Weekly, the national newspaper of the travel industry. She joined The Produce News in October 2004 as editorial assistant and was promoted to assistant editor in January 2006. She lives with her husband, a news photographer and page designer, and daughter, a student, in a lake neighborhood in Kinnelon, NJ, where the family enjoys a semi-rural lifestyle just 30 miles from midtown Manhattan. In addition to the outdoors, Terry's interests include travel, theater, movies, music and art. She is an avid reader, especially of mysteries. Her favorite writers in that genre are Ruth Rendell, Robert Barnard and Agatha Christie.
EDITOR and PUBLISHER
John Groh was born and raised in Bergen County, NJ, in the suburbs of New York City. After two decades of dreadful Northeast winters and with a desire to experience life in a different part of the country, he moved to San Diego, CA, in the mid-1980s and attended the University of San Diego, where he majored in English.
While at USD, he developed an interest in oceanography and remained at the university after graduation, working as a researcher on a variety of projects in the field of geological oceanography, including tracking past El Niño weather occurrences and identifying marine organisms that live in and around the hydrothermal vents in the Salton Sea in California's Imperial Valley.
In 1992, John loaded his worldly possessions into his 1972 VW Bug convertible and embarked on his final cross-country journey back east. Soon after his return to New Jersey, he landed a job at a local newspaper as a sports editor and beat writer for the New York Giants of the National Football League. The following year, he joined insurance industry publisher A.M. Best Co. in Whitehouse Station, NJ, as an editor and writer for a number of titles.
Realizing that writing about loss control and risk management was far from his dream job, John responded to an ad about an opening for an assistant editor at The Produce News. As a vegetarian, he was intrigued at the prospect of writing about fruits and vegetables and was excited to join the company in 1995.Among the early challenges of his tenure was helping to implement an electronic desktop publishing system for the newspaper, while at the same time learning the nuances of the produce industry.
In 1997, John was promoted to managing editor of The Produce News, and with that took over the design of the front page of the newspaper, as well as the responsibility of assigning news stories and features. In 2000, he was appointed editor and associate publisher of The Produce News, and his duties were expanded to include day-to-day operations at the company. In July 2006, John was promoted to publisher of the newspaper. He retained his title and responsibilities of editor of the publication, but he now has oversight of all operations of the company.
John and his wife, Mary Anne, an attorney, live in the New York City suburb of Haworth, NJ, with their son, Zane, 9, and daughter, Skyler, 7. Most mornings have John up before the sun to get to the gym or enjoy some solitude before the mayhem of the day begins.
Lora Abcarian was born in Berkeley, CA, in 1949. She graduated from Bowling Green High School in Ohio in 1967 and immediately began her studies at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Lora's interest in writing and communication began at early age, and she obtained her bachelor of arts degree in English at FSU in 1971. She became the first student to graduate with a master of arts degree in communications from FSU in 1972, facilitating a change of status for the Department of Speech, which became the Department of Communications that year.
Lora currently lives in Bailey, CO. She served as a reporter for The Flume, a regional newspaper in Park County, CO, in 2000-01. She became editor of that newspaper in 2002, and resigned her position in 2006 to join The Produce News. In addition to her freelance writing, Lora has been a professional photographer since 1984. She loves her rural lifestyle and enjoys Colorado's Rocky Mountains.