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RonProCon expands with new eastern office

RonProCon, a produce consulting service headquartered in Reno, NV, announced that due to increased client demand, it will open a second operating office located in Portland, ME, effective January 2015.

"We have experienced remarkable growth over the years and especially during the past six months, which has greatly increased our customer base," Ron Pelger, president and chief executive officer of RonProCon, said in a press release.Ron-PelgerRon Pelger "To meet the growing demand for our services, we decided it was practical and timely to open a second operating office in Portland, Maine. This will now give us an eastern and western office."

The Portland office will be headed by Dick DelGizzi, a longtime business partner of Pelger at RonProCon, who will assume the position of senior vice president of operations for the company.

"[DelGizzi] has been my right-hand associate for many years and is well-skilled in produce merchandising and operations," Pelger added in the press release.Dick-DelGizziDick DelGizzi "He has a wealth of knowledge and is very well liked by store employees and management due to his energized motivation. DelGizzi will cover the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada and I will cover the western half. There may be times that we will both be working alongside each other in the same stores with our customers when necessary."

"It gives me a pleasure to oversee the new RonProCon operating office in Portland," DelGizzi said in the press release. "I worked alongside Ron Pelger for many years and am well aware of his business techniques, methods and high quality standards for positive results. This will be a great opportunity for us to move forward, which will allow an even larger selection of services for our customers."

RonProCon offers professional services to retailers, growers and shippers. Its specializes in produce merchandising at store level, teaching and training seminars, shrink recovery and control, product growth, sales and profit increase, and other branches of the industry.

"Even though we are primarily produce-oriented, our company has the capability to assist in other levels of the business," Pelger added in the press release. "We have an enormous outreach of professional experts ready to assist in even meat, deli, bakery and groceries if needed. We often spread our overall supermarket experiences with other departments while working in the stores with our client owners and management. Eating and shopping habits change overnight in this business. We stay on course with new ideas and trends that are in demand by today's consumers."

For further information, contact Pelger or DelGizzi at 775/853-7056 or by email at

J&J Family of Farms hires new western sales manager

Because J&J Family of Farms continues to expand into the western region of the United States, the company recently hired Mari Danielson, who will serve as its western sales manager.

Danielson, who was previously the senior sales executive for Sunfed, brings a wide range of produce experience to this new position.

“This is a great opportunity to be able to sell and market all varieties of high-quality produce from a well-established company with a diversified customer base," she said in a press release.Mari ColorMari Danielson "I am very excited to grow my career with the 'Family of Farms' that J&J represents."

Starting her career in the Phoenix wholesale market, Danielson developed hands-on product knowledge of all aspects of the wholesale segment. After moving to Colorado, she was hired as a retail specialist for CH Robinson, working in procurement, sales, merchandising, representation and transportation.

Building on her produce expertise, Danielson opened a logistics and produce company based in Colorado, which provided her with the additional skills and experience in management and administration. In 2006 she re-located to the Nogales area where she was offered the opportunity to expand sales for SunFed.

“With our continued growth in the western region, J&J has now become a national supplier and this has created new opportunities for us to enlarge our sales force and operations,” Brian Rayfield, vice president of business development for J&J, said in the release.  “Mari's produce knowledge combined with her retail and foodservice experience will be an asset to our team.”

Produce for Better Health awards grant recipients

In support of Produce for Better Health Foundation’s long-standing support of supermarkets, coupled with the close work PBH has done with supermarket dietitians over the last few years, PBH is awarding its second round of grants totaling $32,000 to support grocery store dietetics. Since 1991, the organization has worked to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables to improve public health, and these grants will facilitate that effort.

The following university programs will use the funds to deliver grocery store tours by trained nutrition and dietetic interns, enabling enhanced collaboration between supermarkets and university nutrition and dietetic programs: Appalachian State University in Boone, NC; Benedictine University in Lisle, IL; Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA; Illinois State University in Normal, IL; Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL; Texas State University in San Marcos, TX; University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR; and University of Texas-Health Science Center at Houston.

“The store tour dietetic training grant program has, and continues, to gain momentum and garner interest,” Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH, said in a press release. “We received 20 grant proposals for this current funding period, which is quite impressive given it is only the second award period since the commencement of the program earlier this year.  I am looking forward to highlighting and sharing notable results of the program, along with some of our grantees, during our 2015 Annual Conference.”

PBH’s 2015 Annual Conference: The Consumer Connection will be held March 16-18 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ. Early-bird registration is available through Dec. 31, 2014.

Associated Wholesale Grocers names EVP of division operations

Associated Wholesale Grocers announced that David Smith will be promoted to executive vice president of division operations effective Jan. 4. Smith will report to Jerry Garland, president and chief executive officer. In this new role he will have responsibility for AWG operations, corporate distribution, corporate services and IT.

Smith has been in the grocery industry for many years, starting as a teen in a family-owned business and working in various retail roles, including store owner and operator. Prior to joining AWG, David spent 17 years in various wholesale positions with Malone & Hyde and later Fleming, ranging from retail development manager to general manager of the Nashville, TN, division.

Having joined AWG in 2003 as director of real estate, Smith was promoted to director of member services for the Nashville division in 2007. In 2009 he was promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Memphis, TN, division. In conjunction with his contributions in Memphis, Smith was soon promoted to senior vice president and division manager and led the team in the successful start-up of the new Gulf Coast division.

Apple industry unites to increase sales

It’s not unprecedented for the apple industry to work together — industry members do so daily on issues ranging from immigration to trade relations to crop research.  But this holiday season U.S. Apple Association and participating members are working to support apple sales by conducting joint retail communications and consumer education programs that share the same themes with their respective audiences at the same time.

“There is great opportunity here for us to deepen the impact we make with media and consumers alike by joining efforts,” Suzanne Wolter, chair of USApple’s consumer health education and public relations committee, said in a press release. “Right now we have not only the right team to implement these types of programs, but also the industry enthusiasm and support to make them a success.”

Beginning the week of Dec. 1 and continuing into early spring, USApple and select members will hold monthly PR and social media outreach initiatives to reach online fans and media. The efforts will be aimed at attracting greater consumer attention with consistent and timely messages and images.

“Consumer news media and social media are increasingly busy, cluttered places to connect with consumers — particularly during the holiday season,” Wendy Brannen, director of consumer health and public relations for USApple, said in the release. “By conducting joint communications campaigns in which much of the apple industry, including producers, processors and retailers, are presenting the same content at the same time, we’re better able to break through to consumers with important, helpful messages that will ideally translate to increased apple sales.”

The December program focuses on encouraging consumers to “share the health” this holiday season with do-it-yourself apple gifts, including homemade gift baskets, butters and jams, with apples as the healthy, accessible and affordable center ingredient.  Members will be sharing similar posts and professionally styled photography on their social and digital channels and pitching consistent messages and materials to their respective target consumer media.

Forthcoming campaigns will focus on the benefits of resolving to eat two apples a day in January, and promoting apples’ heart health research during American Heart Month in February.

Retailers and other USApple members and supporters interested in participating in the campaigns may contact Brannen at