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United Fresh 2013 to honor produce retail stars

The United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Leadership Excellence, is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Retail Produce Manager Awards program.

Established in 2005 by founding sponsor Ready Pac Foods Inc., the program will honor 25 outstanding retail produce managers at the United Fresh 2013 convention May 14-16 in San Diego.

The Retail Produce Manager Awards program pays special recognition to produce managers on the front line in supermarkets working everyday to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the program's inception, over 170 managers from more than 60 different retail banners have been honored for their commitment to customer satisfaction, innovative merchandising, produce-related community outreach, and recognition among company peers.

"Produce managers are the face of our industry to the consumer," said Randy Scott, category manager for produce at Delhaize America and chairman of United's Retail-Foodservice board, said in a press release. "Their creativity and positive interaction with customers can have a tangible effect on all of our bottom lines. This program is a powerful way to send a message to produce managers everywhere that we value what they do."

This year, 25 award winners, along with their corporate produce directors, will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to the United Fresh 2013 convention. The winners will be honored at the Produce Celebration Dinner on Thursday, May 16, where five grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $1,000 cash prize.

"We salute the incredible work of these men and women who are delivering an exceptional produce experience every day to the consumer," Michael Solomon, president and chief executive officer of Ready Pac Foods Inc., added in the press release. "We are proud to sponsor this program and honored to have such dedicated and talented managers showcasing the best our industry has to offer."

"We strongly encourage all retailers who want to recognize their best produce managers to nominate them today," Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, added in the press release. "This is more than just a plaque to hang on the wall. This program is experience that many have called a "highlight of their careers."

The 2012 Retail Produce Manager Award winners were:

  • Leslie Alex of Hannaford Bros. in Dover, NH
  • Ricky Allemand of Brookshire Grocery Co. in New Iberia, LA
  • John Ballard of Food City/K-VA-T Food Stores in Lafollete, TN
  • Mathew K. Blair of Price Chopper/Golub Corporation in Cicero, NY
  • Phil Burgess of Safeway Stores in Bend, OR
  • Brian Burrow of Brookshire Grocery Co. in Whitehouse, TX
  • Franklin Bys of Hy-Vee Inc. in Coralville, IA
  • James Campbell of Sunflower Farmers Market in Denver
  • Brian Collegnon of Rueben's County Market in Hartford, WI
  • Corey Conrad of Colemans Food Centres, Corner Brook in Newfoundland, Canada
  • Brian Corbitt of Bel Air Market/Raley's Family of Fine Stores in Sacramento, CA
  • Jolene Cyr of Food Maxx/Save Mart Supermarkets in Fairfield, CA
  • Ron Danielson of Raley's Family of Fine Stores in Woodland, CA
  • Chad Faulk of Harris Teeter in Charlotte, NC
  • John Heon of Big Y Foods in Lee, MA
  • Rich Jackson of Quality Food Centers in Sammamish, WA
  • Steve Kaminski of Jewel-Osco in Westmont, IL
  • Charmagne Kendrick of VG's Food Center/Spartan Stores in Fenton, MI
  • Jim Kesteloot of Harris Teeter in Reston, VA
  • Michael Kolek of Jewel-Osco in Schaumburg, IL
  • Brian Langdon of The Kroger Co. in Cincinnati
  • Mike McElmeel of Hy-Vee Inc. in Silvis, IL
  • Elizabeth Myers of New River MCAS Commissary in Jacksonville, NC
  • Wanda Ivy Nicholas of Travis Air Force Base Commissary in Travis, CA
  • Nick Puleo of Vons in San Diego

Nominations for the 2013 Retail Produce Manager Awards program may be made at and must be received by Jan. 18, 2013.