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People, week of August 1, 2011

Duda Farm Fresh Foods, based in Oviedo, FL, announced the promotion of NICHOLE TOWELL to director of marketing. She previously held the position of marketing manager.

With 11 years of service at Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Ms. Towell has been instrumental in the company’s sales and marketing efforts. She recently led the charge for Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ consumer marketing efforts through digital and social media marketing.

Nichole Towell

“I am delighted to announce Nichole’s promotion to director of marketing,” Mark Bassetti, senior vice president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, said in a July 25 press release. “Nichole was simply born to market fresh produce. Her dedication to furthering the growth of Duda Farm Fresh Foods and her demonstration of leadership in the fresh produce industry is a testament to her passion. Her promotion is well deserved.”

Ms. Towell led the marketing promotion and public relations efforts for Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ “What’s Red?” launch in 2010, which was highly publicized. She also serves on the United Fresh Produce Leadership Alumni board of directors; is involved in the planning committee for the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent’s Fresh Perspective event; and is an avid supporter and member of the Produce for Better Health Foundation marketing committee.

In her new role, Ms. Towell will lead Duda Farm Fresh Foods strategically on all marketing initiatives addressing the trade and consumers. As a member of the Duda Farm Fresh Foods management team, she will continue to provide invaluable consumer insight and support the company’s focus on providing customers with the best service and tools to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.


Rebecca Catlett

Nunhems, Bayer CropScience’s vegetable seed business, has named REBECCA CATLETT produce chain manager for the Americas. In her new role, she will work with retailers, packer-shippers, importers, traders and foodservice professionals to develop products and initiatives that enhance their business and how they work with Nunhems.

Ms. Catlett most recently served as Nunhems’ global MarCom manager, where she was responsible for formulating and overseeing global customer communications strategies and managing a team of specialists across the globe.

“The produce chain is essential to our business and, in turn, Nunhems’ value-added vegetable varieties are very important to their businesses,” Ms. Catlett said in a July 25 press release. “It is vital that we continue working together to develop products that work for the entire produce chain, including the end user. Nunhems has always focused on listening to our customers. Our goal is to lead the industry in responding to their challenges and proactively helping them seize opportunities.”


STEVE JOHNSON joined the sales staff of NoKota Packers, a grower-shipper-repacker specializing in red table potatoes, in Buxton, ND, July 11. Mr. Johnson, who worked at Associated Potato Growers for 11 years before coming aboard at NoKota, told The Produce News July 26 that his responsibilities center on sales, servicing “existing customers and develop[ing] new business opportunities.” He has 11 years of sales experience in the trade, and before that spent five years on the transportation side of the business, “primarily brokering potato loads from the Red River Valley in North Dakota,” he said.

Mr. Johnson lives with his wife, Lisa, and two children, Chelsie and Jacob, in Thompson, ND.


CONNNIE RUST has been named sales service manager at California Giant Berry Farms in Watsonville, CA.

Connie Rust
In her new position, Ms. Rust manages three employees and works with the sales team, “reconciling orders and servicing our customers,” she told The Produce News July 26.

Ms. Rust originally joined the berry grower-shipper two years ago, having previously worked at Frank Capurro & Son for five years and before that at Mann Packing for two years. She has worked in the produce industry for nine years.

Ms. Rust is a board member of the Jean & Ed Kelly Foundation, a charitable organization that supports a variety of endeavors in the Watsonville area.

Ms. Rust lives in Watsonville. She is engaged to be married next year to Frank Agbayani, also from Watsonville.


HEATHER GARLICH has been named director of media and public relations for Arlington, VA-based Food Marketing Institute. She will be responsible for managing communications outreach and information activities related to FMI’s strategic goals, including government relations, food safety, conferences and events and industry relations.

“We are pleased to welcome Heather to the FMI communications team,” President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin said in a July 27 press release. “Her wealth of experience in consumer, trade and government communications, coupled with her skills in media relations will most decidedly enrich FMI’s presence as the voice of the food retail community.”

Prior to joining FMI, Ms. Garlich spent nearly four years at Porter Novelli Public Services in the food and nutrition practice. At the firm, she held management roles on numerous clients such as Welch’s, the Almond Board of California and Pharmavite LLC, developing business plans related to nutrition policy, food science and current trends.

In addition, Ms. Garlich’s history includes trade associations, as she previously served as the manager for member communications at the Grocery Manufacturing Association and was an integral part of the 2006 merger of GMA and the Food Products Association.

Ms. Garlich earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a journalism concentration from the University of Delaware.


To announce personnel changes at your company, please contact Assistant Editor Ryan Beckman at 201/986-7990, ext. 109, or Photos are encouraged.