COMPLIMENTARY
PRINT SUB

CLICK HERE

The-Produce-News-Logo-130

CURRENT ISSUE

view current print edition

PAST ISSUES

archives

 

 

 

2018 Southern Exposure draws great numbers and high praise

TAMPA, FL -- The Southeast Produce Council's 2018 Southern Exposure, held here March 1-3, saw great attendance at all events, with attendees and exhibitors alike giving the conference and expo high marks and abundant praise.

As one SEPC official said during the expo, "It's just phenomenal."

As usual, the event kicked off with the Tom Page Golf Classic, which is named for one the council's founders and which took place Thursday, March 1, at Saddlebrook Country Club. The winning foursome on the Saddlebrook course, with a score of 55, were Jesse Lopez of Tanimura & Antle, John Miller of ReedTMS, Jim Grabowski of Well-Pict Berries and Michael Jenks of ReedTMS. The winning twosome on the Palmer course, with a score of 54, were Ray England and Jeff Weaver of D.J. Forry.SEPC5252The 2018 Tom Page Golf Classic winning twosome on the Palmer course, with a score of 54, were Ray England and Jeff Weaver (second and third from left) of D.J. Forry, flanked by SEPC President David Sherrod and Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co., who was in charge of the golf tournament.

The STARS and STEP-UPP dinner was held that evening at Top Golf, where industry members who are involved in the Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship Program or the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals had the opportunity to hit a few golf balls before and after dinner.

On Friday morning, March 2, the council's STARS program, which is headed by Raina Nelson of Renaissance Food Group, held a breakfast featuring an extremely informative presentation by Dan'l Mackey Almy, president and CEO of DMA Solutions Inc.

Three well-attended workshops also took place Friday morning, and in the afternoon, Grace Killelea of Grace Killelea Consulting addressed the Southern Roots luncheon, which this year took place aboard the Yacht Starship. Southern Roots is the council's leadership program for women in produce.

In line with this year's theme, "Where Produce Is King," the opening gala featured the "king," who performed many of Elvis Presley's hits from the 1950s and '60s.

SEPC5250The 2018 Tom Page Golf Classic was held Thursday, March 1, at the Saddlebrook Country Club in Tampa, FL. The winning foursome on the Saddlebrook course, with a score of 55, were Jesse Lopez of Tanimura & Antle, John Miller of ReedTMS, Jim Grabowski of Well-Pict Berries and Michael Jenks of ReedTMS.At Saturday's keynote luncheon, Dave Stornetta, founder of Produce Careers and who was instrumental with strategic planning in the early years of the Southeast Produce Council, received the Terry Vorhees Lifetime Achievement Award.

John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, was the featured speaker at the luncheon.

The main event Saturday afternoon was, of course, the expo, which saw good, steady traffic from start to finish.

There were 2,408 people registered for Southern Exposure 2018, of which 483 were from the retail-foodservice sector, according to David Sherrod, president and CEO of the Southeast Produce Council. "We couldn't be any happier with those numbers," Sherrod told The Produce News about an hour before the expo ended. "It's just phenomenal."

He added, "I do think that this is the most well-rounded show we've ever had," referring to the ratio of buyers to sellers. "It's been tremendous."

SEPC5255The STARS/STEPUPP dinner was held Thursday evening, March 1, at Top Golf. Shown are Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who heads the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, and Raina Nelson of Renaissance Food Group, who heads the Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship Program.SEPC Chairman of the Board Faye Westfall was seeing "a wonderful and steady flow all day" at the expo, and she said that each and every event had gone extremely well.

"I totally enjoyed all the workshops, and I was very impressed with the attendance," said Westfall, who is director of sales at DiMare Fresh Tampa. "The Southern Roots luncheon cruise was great, with a terrific speaker. The gala had wonderful food and entertainment. The general session was packed; it was awesome to see all those people there. And it was a real pleasure to be able to donate additional funds to all the charities that the Southeast Produce Council supports."

Exhibitors interviewed by The Produce News were equally enthusiastic about the event in Tampa.

"I've seen more quality customers in the first two hours than I've seen in a whole day at some other shows," said Kevin Donovan of Phillips Mushroom Farms. "I've also seen them at the networking events and the golf tournament. Everyone here is casual and ready to talk."

Jim Allen of New York Apple Sales said, "Without a doubt, it's a show we look forward to. There is certainly very good attendance -- a lot of retailers from all over the country." He added, "I like this show since all the booths are the same size, so it's an equal playing field. And the exhibitors do a really nice job. The booths are really top notch."

SEPC5259The STARS breakfast on Friday, March 2, featured an informative presentation by Dan'l Mackey Almy (right), president and CEO of DMA Solutions Inc. She is shown with Raina Nelson of Renaissance Food Group, who heads the Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship Program.Ronnie Cohen of Vision Import Group LLC said, "This show really brings in the foodservice [people] and retailers. This is a good opportunity to meet your customers, and it's more intimate than the larger shows."

Pete Dandrea of Dandrea Produce said, "This is one of our favorite shows. You can have a little time with everyone here. We get so much value at this show. We absolutely love this show."

Mike Accetturo of Rainer Fruit Co. said, "We've been coming to this show for a long time. It's an excellent show. There are a lot of retailers, a lot of important people. The golf tournament was good, and we enjoyed the gala last night."

Bobby Creel of L&M Cos. Inc. and a member of the SEPC board of governors, said, "We are very pleased with the national and regional retail representation at the show. We feel [this event] is large enough to be effective but small enough to stay intimate and personal."

He added, "This event continues to be about the quality of the attendees, not necessarily the quantity of the attendees. Over all, this event is bar-setting again."

The Southeast Produce Council's next event is its Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo, scheduled to take place Sept. 6-8 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN.