Produce Business Quiz Winner: Gene Harris

Senior Purchasing Manager
Denny’s Corp
Spartanburg, South Carolina

After working in several restaurants during high school as a cook and sous chef, Harris joined the Navy in 1979 as a cook, serving on two nuclear submarines in double enlistments. From there he went straight to work at Denny’s, where he steadfastly built a fulfilling and demanding 35-year career. “I’m in regional purchasing, managing all sourcing and distribution of fresh produce, as well as fresh bread, shell eggs, and some ancillary items such as ice cream, and I’m also travel administrator.

He emphasizes fresh produce for a reason. Fresh produce is important for any restaurant, but it is very important at Denny’s from this standpoint: “Fresh produce is approximately 15% of our food spend, but it affects the other 85%. If you order a steak and the salad’s not good or the potato’s not good, or whatever the fresh produce is that’s associated with it, it effects the whole meal, everything on the plate. Yet fresh produce is the toughest thing to get to the restaurant due to its perishability. “We have restaurants in literally every state, and that poses some challenges because distribution is so fragmented. We have 102 produce distributors to cover the 1,500 or so restaurants we have across the country,” he says.

Staying on top of industry issues is important for Harris. “I read Produce Business for good overall coverage of the produce industry, info about growers/shippers, and every issue seems to focus on a particular city, as well as trends and changes that are coming. Whenever there’s a foodservice article I read it, regardless of who it’s about. It’s also good to keep the pulse on what’s going on in the retail world. Although they’re very different, retail and foodservice complement each other,” he explains.

Harris has a fulfilling life outside of business as well. He and his wife Annie have two daughters and three grandsons; the oldest, Owen, will be eight in October, and is a budding golfer. When Harris saw the PB Quiz prize was a golf club set, he was inspired to send in his entry. Happily for Owen, his grandfather’s produce quiz knowledge paid off.

How To Win! To win the Produce Business Quiz, the first thing you must do is enter. The rules are simple: Read through the articles and advertisements in this issue to find the answers. Fill in the blanks corresponding to the questions below, scan or photocopy the page, and send your answers to the address listed on the coupon. The winner will be chosen by drawing from the responses received before the publication of our SEPTEMBER 2021 issue of Produce Business. The winner must agree to submit a color photo to be published in that issue.

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