Produce Business Quiz Winner: TONY MIRACK

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.”

Produce Business Quiz Winner: JOHN VENA

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.

Produce Business Quiz Winner: DODIE GAUGER

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.

Produce Business Quiz Winner: MARC MATTEO

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.

Produce Business Quiz Winner: BOB FILIANO

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.

Produce Business Quiz Winner: GENE HARRIS

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.

Produce Business Quiz Winner: ROD WIEBER

When Feeding the Northwest was formed by member food banks in Washington, Oregon and Idaho just over three years ago, Wieber was chosen to head the organization due to his 15 years working in the non-profit industry.

Produce Business Quiz Winner: KENT SATHER

Sather is part of an exclusive club, and an expert within it. He doesn’t say this to brag… “it’s just something you work into, but as far as seed potato certification agencies in the U.S., there are only 14 of us, and not very many of my colleagues that do what I do out there,” he says of 40-plus years honing his skills in this specialized field.