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United Fresh Announces Nominations for New Board Officers and Directors for 2014-2015

Apr 07, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – United Fresh Immediate Past Chairman David Krause, Paramount Citrus, has announced the slate of new officers and directors nominated to serve on the United Fresh Produce Association Board of Directors, effective at its April 22, 2014 meeting in Santa Barbara, California.

Ascending to Chairman of the Board is Ron Carkoski, President & CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies, Ephrata, PA. Ron currently serves as Chairman-Elect of the Board. He joined Four Seasons in 1994 as director of procurement, after almost 20 years in the produce business with Gateway Foods/Scrivner, Carpenter Cook Company, and Gamble Robinson Co. He progressed to vice president and in 2001 was named President & CEO. Ron was nominated to his second term on the United Fresh Board in 2010, previously serving from 2003-2007 and most recently as Chairman of the Wholesaler-Distributor Board. He is a past board member of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Philadelphia and Susquehanna Valley, and served as a member of the Board of Advisors for Graystone Bank in Pennsylvania. Ron earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI.

Nominated as Chairman-Elect is Brian W. Kocher, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Chiquita Brands International, Inc., Charlotte, NC. Brian is responsible for global sales, business unit and food safety capabilities. He has held various senior leadership positions since joining Chiquita in 2005, including Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, where he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s financial operations worldwide; he was President, North America; President, Europe and the Middle East; Vice President, and more. He has more than 18 years of experience, including senior roles at General Electric, Hill-Rom and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Brian will assume the Chairmanship of United Fresh in 2015.

Lorri A. Koster, Chairman and CEO, Mann Packing Company, will continue to serve in an ongoing term as Secretary-Treasurer. 

Current United Chairman of the Board Ron Midyett, Chief Executive Officer, Apio, Inc., will move to the position of Immediate Past Chairman and remain on the Board and the Executive Committee.

The following industry leaders have been nominated to serve as new members of the United Fresh Board for a two-year term beginning April 2014:

Mark Campion, President, Taylor Farms Retail, Inc. was born and raised in Salinas, CA and has had the unique opportunity to spend the entirety of his career with the same company. Throughout his 15 years with Taylor Farms, he has worked in various operational roles learning the foundation of the business, including Foodservice Sales Manager and Vice President of Foodservice Sales. In 2008, Mark launched the Retail Division and was named President. Most recently, he served on the United Fresh-Cut Processor Board and last year on the Executive Board of the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Mark is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Agriculture Economics.

Rudi Groppe, President and CEO, Heinzen Manufacturing, Intl., Gilroy, CA, has had more than 25 years of experience in the produce industry. Groppe is a graduate of California State University Sacramento, where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1985. Rudi joined Heinzen Manufacturing in 1991 as a Project Engineer. During his career he has held several different positions in Sales Engineering, Sales Management and Engineering. Rudi has been involved at some level with every major project produced by Heinzen Manufacturing, Inc. He also participates as a guest instructor for the UC Davis Fresh Cut Short Course program with presentations on Fresh Cut Equipment Selection and Sanitary Plant Design. Rudi recently served on the United Fresh-Cut Processor Board.

Steve Jarzombek, Vice President Produce Procurement and Merchandising, Roundy’s Supermarket, Milwaukee, WI, started his career in 1975 as a utility clerk at Dominick’s Finer Foods in Chicago. He worked his way up through various positions in Dominick’s management including Produce Manager, Store Director, Category Manager and Director of Floral and Director of Produce. In 2003, Steve joined Roundy’s as Vice President of Produce, followed VP of Perishables and VP of Merchandising. In 2011, Steve rejoined the produce department as Vice President Produce Procurement and Merchandising, noting that “produce has always been special” to him.

Carissa Mace, President, Fresh Produce & Floral Council (FPFC), La Mirada, CA is a graduate of New York University. She has had a long career in the non-profit world with positions at the New York City Opera, United Cerebral Palsy Organization, City of Hope, Food Industries Circle, and Produce Marketing Association. Carissa first joined the FPFC in 1997 as an Event Coordinator and Membership Director; she left five years later and returned to FPFC in 2007 to take the position of President. She was recognized in 2005 among the inaugural group of Produce Business magazine’s “40 under 40” top industry leaders. Carissa is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and the California Society of Association Executives.

Paul Mastronardi, President & Chief Executive Officer, Mastronardi Produce Ltd., Ontario, Canada is at the helm of his fourth generation family business, which was named one of the ‘50 Best Managed Companies in Canada’ for the fifth year in a row. Over the past 10 years, under Paul’s leadership, the company has tripled its annual sales, launched new products annually that have won international awards, and has increased total greenhouse space from 200 to 2,400 acres. As an enthusiastic entrepreneur, Paul was recognized in the inaugural group of Produce Business magazine’s “40 under 40” top industry leaders, ‘Top 25’ in The Packer, ’Produce Man of the Year’ in 2011, and Ontario’s 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Bob Meek, Chief Executive Officer, Wada Farms Marketing Group, Idaho Falls, ID is nominated to serve as Vice Chairman of the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board. Wada Farms is a grower shipper of potatoes and other crops in Idaho.� In addition to their own production, they exclusively manage all potato, onion, and sweet potato operations for Dole Fresh Vegetables and pack and ship products from over 30 states. Bob is a 27-year veteran of the produce industry, holding positions in Idaho, Washington and Florida during his career. Most recently he served on the United Fresh Center for Global Produce Sustainability Advisory Board. He is an alumnus of Adams State College and BYU with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing and Spanish.�

Mike Orf, Assistant Vice President, Produce Operations, Hy-Vee, Inc., West Des Moines, IA is a 36-year retail veteran with Hy-Vee and has worked in the produce arena for nearly his entire career. In 1987, he took on the role of Produce Manager managing different locations in the Omaha metro area. In 2000, he moved to West Des Moines and was promoted to Produce Procurement Specialist within the Hy-Vee corporate office. He later returned to the retail side of the business when he became a Regional Produce Supervisor. In 2011, Mike was elected into the Hy-Vee Hall of Fame as Retail Supervisor of the Year and in 2013 was named Assistant Vice President, Produce Operations.

Susan Reimer-Sifford, Director of Produce Purchasing and Distribution, Darden Restaurants, Orlando, FL, is responsible for oversight of procurement and distribution of all fruit and vegetable items for Darden’s concepts across the country including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steak, Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, Wildfish, Seasons 52 and Yard House. She began her career with Darden in 2005 as Director of Restaurant Distribution Services. Susan received the coveted Darden Joe Lee Brilliance Award in 2007 and in 2013 won the Excellence in Being of Service to Darden’s Restaurants. Susan recently served on the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board, PMA Food Service Conference Committee and is the Immediate Past Chairman of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida where in 2012 she received Second Harvest’s ‘David Pearlman Spirit of Volunteerism’ award. Susan grew up on a farm in Central Illinois where her family still farms today. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Food and Nutrition and a Master’s Degree in Dietetics from Illinois State University.�

Mario Steta, Group Vice President and General Manager-Central Mexico, Driscoll’s, is the leader of the Mexico geographic region, Mario is responsible for implementing all strategic initiatives, including planning and budgeting, process management, grower relationships and more. Mario has been directing Driscoll’s operations in Central Mexico since 2009. He is an Agronomist from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Queretaro and holds a master’s degree in vegetable crops from the University of California. He has been involved on horticultural farming and production for over 20 years. He is responsible for the foundation of the Mexico’s Greenhouse Grower’s Association and the Berry Exporters Association and is a past Board member of Agros, Agropark, and Grupo IDESA.

Nominated as the Chairman of the United Fresh Foundation, which holds an ex-officio position on the United Board, is Jim Lemke, Senior Vice President of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN. Jim is a past Chairman of the Board of United Fresh, and has served as Senior Vice President at Robinson since December 2007; prior to that time, he served as Vice President, Sourcing and as Manager of C.H. Robinson’s Corporate Procurement and Distribution Services division. As a member of the executive team, Jim has network supervision across multiple branch office locations in North America, Europe and Latin America. In addition, he has global network oversight for Robinson Fresh product and services, Management Services/TMC, C.H. Robinson’s Latin America business network and the corporate resources of warehouse/inventory solutions. Jim holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Minnesota.

Current Board members nominated to new positions of service on Market Segment Boards and Councils include:

  • Chairman, Grower-Shipper Board – Tom Deardorff, Deardorff Family Farms
  • Chairman, Retail-Foodservice Board – Sean Picquelle, Taco Bell
    • Vice Chairman, Retail-Foodservice Board – Greg Corrigan, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores
    • Chairman, Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council – Cindy Jewell, California Giant Berry Farms

The following officers of Market Segment Boards and Councils will continue their service on the Board:

    • Chairman, Fresh-Cut Processor Board – Tony Freytag, Crunch Pak Sliced Apples
  • Chairman, Wholesaler Distributor Board – Lisa Strube, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company
    • Vice Chairman, Fresh-Cut Processor Board – Bob Swartwout, VNS Sales
    • Vice Chairman, Wholesaler Distributor Board – Bob Kirch, Caito Foods Service, Inc.
    • Chairman, Finance & Business Management Council – Scott Danner, Liberty Fruit Co., Inc.
  • Chairman, Food Safety & Technology Council – Bob Elliott, Sunkist Growers, Inc.
    • Chairman, Government Relations Council – John Keeling, National Potato Council
    • Chairman, Supply Chain Logistics Council – Kenny Lund, Allen Lund Company, Inc.

The following At-Large Board Members will continue their service on the Board: Bill Brim, Lewis Taylor Farms, Inc.; Bill Brooks, Westlake Produce Company; Jim Catchot, Renaissance Food Group; Aaron Fox, Fox Packaging; Fred Heptinstall, IFCO SYSTEMS, N.A.; David Hille, Cabbage, Inc.; Joe Klare, Castellini Company LLC; Lisa McNeece, Grimmway Enterprises Inc.; Bob Morrissey, National Watermelon Association, Inc.; Angela Nardone, N2N Global; Gordon Robertson, Sun World International, LLC; Dave Russell, Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc.; Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience; Mike Spinazzola, Diversified Restaurant Systems; Mike Wootton, Sunkist Growers, Inc.

“United has a strong history of bringing together talented members from all sectors of the industry to lead our association forward,” said United President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “This line-up of nominees for our consolidated Board of Directors, together with our returning Board members and new officers, makes a tremendously impressive slate of leaders who will ensure a powerful voice for our membership and our industry.”

Board members concluding service at the April 22 meeting include: David Krause, Paramount Citrus who served as Chairman of the Board in 2012-2013, and this past year as Immediate Past Chairman; Paddy Callaghan, Nature’s Best Limited, who served as Chairman of the Global Advisory Council; Emily Fragoso, MIXTEC Group; Dan’l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions, Inc. who served as the Chairman of the Nutrition & Health Council; Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest; Roger Pepperl, Stemilt Growers, LLC who served as the inaugural Chairman of the Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council; Randy Scott, Delhaize America who served as the Chairman of the Retail-Foodservice Board; Will Steele, Frontera Produce who served as the Chairman of the Grower-Shipper Board; Ivan Tarriba, Farmer’s Best International, LLC; Greg Wohlleb, Bunzl, Inc.; and Steve Grinstead, Grinstead Enterprises, who served as Chairman of the United Fresh Foundation.

“I’d like to personally thank those board members who are concluding their service at this upcoming meeting,” said Stenzel. “Their contributions have greatly impacted our industry’s success in so many positive ways, and we appreciate the time and dedication they have given to serving our industry. I’d also like to thank David Krause and Board Development Committee members Ron Carkoski, Ron Midyett, Lorri Koster, Tom Deardorff, Bob Kirch, Sean Picquelle, and Bob Swartwout, for their work this year in nominating an impressive slate of officers and Board members. Our association’s strength comes from the diversity of leaders, coming together from all sectors of the produce supply chain under the United umbrella to drive our industry forward.”


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