Danny Williams had no idea when he became a supermarket clerk while in high school in 1996 that it was a stepping stone to a career in produce 26 years later.
Sarina Rocha is proud to be a third-generation produce and floral manager, working for the same California grocery store for the past 21 years.
Michael Greene has followed somewhat of a linear career path all his life. His journey in retail began right out of high school, when he moved to Myrtle Beach, SC, to work at the A&P back in 1986. After 12-year stints at Harris Teeter and BI-LO, he’s spent the past 13 years with Lowe’s.
It was 1977 when Claire Engel joined Engel’s Market, the Pittsburgh produce store her father purchased back in 1966.
Although Scott Austin graduated from Nassau Community College with an associate’s degree in business, the produce industry was in his blood. “I grew up in this industry, as my uncle owned Key Food, and my father worked as store manager for them for 30 years, although he is now with a different company,” Austin says.
How Tony Mirack got into the produce industry three decades ago was purely happenstance. “My friend referred me to interview at a supermarket, where they had positions for a receiver and a produce clerk,” Mirack says. “I told them I had experience as a receiver, so I preferred that position. They called me back saying they had good and bad news; I was hired as a produce clerk rather than in receiving.”
When John Vena joined his family business, a wholesaler/importer of avocados, plantains, mangos and other specialty items, which was established by his grandfather in 1919, he wasn’t 100% sure it was for him.
Finding loyal, long-term employees can be challenging, especially in today’s labor market. It is evident that this issue’s PB Quiz winner, Dodie Gauger, not only loves working in sales and food safety at Livingston, CA-based Classic Yam Inc., but is dedicated to the produce industry, as well. “I’ve worked at the company 25 years this January, and I’ve always worked in sales and food safety,” she says.
One would imagine quite an adjustment shifting industries from sporting goods to fresh fruits and vegetables. “For the past 12 years, I’ve been with C.H. Robinson as operations manager/shipper and receiving. Prior to that I was in distribution for Sports Authority for many years, so I’ve been in distribution for about 22 years,” says Matteo.
In a familiar story of industry veterans, Filiano started his career at 17 with a regional grocery chain, Giant Eagle. He worked there 18 years, as a produce manager for the last 10, going through the ranks of their stores. “I aspired to be a produce buyer, and McAneny gave me a great opportunity,” he says, now three years in his current position.