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Florist Sammie Scott dies at 98
Sammie Scott, believed to be the oldest American florist, died March 29 in Amarillo, TX, at the age of 98. Mr. Scott worked in his shop from 1957 up until two weeks before his death, according to a news release. His daughter, Mary Ruth Albracht, said her father had arranged about 40,000 casket pieces and worked five generations of weddings during his long career. “He shared in that many lives,” Albracht said in the release. “He loved all flowers.... Read more
Stewart Precythe, president and CEO of Southern Produce Distributors, dies at age 68
David Stewart Precythe, president and chief executive officer of Southern Produce Distributors Inc. in Faison, NC, died Thursday, April 20, at his home, surrounded by family and friends. He was 68 years old. Mr. Precythe, a 50-year veteran of the produce industry, laid the foundation for Southern Produce Distributors’ ongoing and continuing success. A native of Duplin County, NC, Mr. Precythe was known as a man of great integrity, loyalty and dedication.... Read more
US Foods Holding Corp. announced that Ty Gent has joined the company as chief supply chain officer, reporting to Pietro Satriano, president and chief executive officer. Gent will oversee all warehousing, transportation and supply chain strategy and operations on behalf of the company, as well as safety programs and real estate. “Ty joins us with more than 30 years of supply chain leadership experience,” Satriano said in a press release. “His reputation... Read more
Brent Harrison returns to Nogales watermelon sales
Having fulfilled two years on the sidelines of the produce industry to fulfill a PACA sanction, Brent Harrison has returned to the watermelon business in Nogales. Harrison was the principal of Al Harrison Co. Distributors, based in Nogales, AZ, which was launched 55 years earlier by his grandfather. In a voluntary petition filed June 9, 2015, in Tucson at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Arizona, Al Harrison Co. declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy.Brent Harrison In... Read more
Tom Nassif wins Agriculturalist of the Year Award
Tom Nassif, Western Growers president and chief executive officer, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Agriculturalist of the Year Award for his extensive contributions to the California agricultural industry. In selecting Nassif for the recognition, the California State Fair Ag Advisory Council considered his role in elevating the immigration reform debate to focus on the need for a reliable and legal workforce for agriculture, establishing a new specialty... Read more
National Mango Board appoints Valda Coryat as new director of marketing
The National Mango Board has named Valda Coryat as the NMB’s new director of marketing. Valda will help strengthen the board’s marketing programs and drive mango consumption and awareness in the United States. As director, Valda will oversee all NMB marketing and public relations initiatives for consumer, nutrition, retail and foodservice programs, as well as lead trade show and website communications. In addition, she will collaborate with the management... Read more
Horticultural therapist honored with Chairman's Award
TRENTON, NJ — Laura DePrado of Branchburg in Somerset County, NJ, and president of Final Touch Plantscaping LLC received the Chairman's Award from the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly at the State Capitol, here, during celebration of Horticultural Therapy Week New Jersey. The award was presented by Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak (D-1), chairman of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee,... Read more
Ernandes has expanded role in North America for Monsanto
CULIACAN, SINALOA —  A week after adding U.S. and Canadian sales to his professional responsibilities, Marcelo Ernandes told The Produce News on March 9 that he also will serve as the North America commercial lead for seed sales of Monsanto Co. Ernandes will be moving to the firm’s St. Louis headquarters from Mexico this June. His sales responsibility continues to involve Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean islands. He has been responsible... Read more
Conor Leach joins Oakes Farms as Midwest regional sales specialist and account manager
Immokalee, FL-based Oakes Farms has experienced a year of profound growth and expansion. In its need for qualified staff to help keep the momentum going, the company has hired Conor Leach as its new Midwest regional sales specialist and account manager. He joined the company March 15. Leach previously worked as account manager for Tom Lange Missouri in St. Louis. He joined the company as an intern when he was a sophomore at the University of Missouri studying business... Read more
Jim Allen named VP of marketing at New York Apple Sales
New York Apple Sales Inc. has announced that Jim Allen and Matt Wells have joined the Glenmont, NY-based company. Allen, who served for 17 years as president and chief executive officer of the New York Apple Association, is now vice president of marketing at New York Apple Sales, while Wells, previously a procurement manager for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, team leader of Cornell’s Lake Ontario fruit team and orchard supervisor for Maple Ridge Fruit Farm, has... Read more
Mann Packing announced the hiring of Tim Short, Jim Rodger and Josh Campo to the positions of senior director of strategic vegetable operations, safety supervisor and crop production manager, respectively. Short will be responsible for maintaining relationships and a flow of communication with grower communities, primarily in California and Arizona, and will also track developments and opportunities in Mexico with Mann’s director of international supply... Read more
California Giant Berry Farms adds to sales team
As California Giant continues to grow in fresh berry volume so does the sales team. The company recently hired Jonathan Sparks bringing strong sales experience to the existing team in preparation for the berry season ahead. Sparks brings almost 20 years of produce industry experience into California Giant and will be managing existing trading partner accounts as well as developing new business relationships for the company. Most recently Sparks was the... Read more
DiPiazza transitioning to senior advisor for Sun Pacific
After nearly 10 years with Sun Pacific, first as managing consultant and then as president of sales and marketing, Bob DiPiazza will be transitioning to a consulting role of senior advisor to Berne Evans, chairman of Sun Pacific, and the company's leadership team, effective April 1.  “I’ve had a very rewarding 40-year career in the retail grocery industry, and working with Berne Evans and the team at Sun Pacific for the past 10 years has been very... Read more
Katiana Valdes joins Crystal Valley Foods
Crystal Valley Foods, a leading importer and distributor of fresh asparagus, French beans, baby vegetables and other specialty fresh produce items, has hired Katiana Valdes as its new marketing director. In her new role Valdes will be responsible for developing and implementing the company’s marketing, branding, social media and public relations programs. She will also support sales efforts by developing promotional programs tied into both the foodservice... Read more
Pacific International Marketing names sales manager for Salinas office
Pacific International Marketing has promoted Jeff Hyosaka to sales manager of the Salinas, CA, sales office. He will be responsible for the sales team leadership and growing sales throughout the company. Hyosaka has been a key member of the Pacific team for over 30 years. He joined the company when it was a small sales operation and has been a key figure in its growth into the multifaceted growing and sales operation that exists today. “Jeff is a natural... Read more
Brian Miller joins Prime Time as business development director
Brian Miller has been named director of business development for Prime Time International, based in Coachella, CA. Miller’s longtime management career in the produce industry enabled him to gain a broad perspective in sourcing, sales, marketing and management. He spent 15 years with Gourmet Produce in Los Angeles, rising to president, a position he held for many years. For the past two years, he was vice president of sales and marketing at Mission Produce. At... Read more
Lutz changing role at CMI
CMI Orchards announced that Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing, will end his service in his current position effective March 31, beginning a new role with the company. “I fully appreciate the contributions Steve has made to marketing excellence at CMI,” Bob Mast, president of CMI, said in a press release. “Under Steve’s leadership, the marketing team has taken our programs to the next level. His strategic and analytical skills are unmatched... Read more
Giumarra bolsters sales efforts in the East
The Giumarra Cos., based in Los Angeles, announced the addition of Stu Monaghan and Rob Campbell to bolster its sales efforts in the East. Monaghan joins as division manager of Giumarra Southeast and Campbell joins as director of sales for the Giumarra International Berry East Coast operation.Stu Monaghan “We are pleased to bring Stu and Rob on board to help develop our East Coast customer and grower bases,” John Corsaro, chief executive officer of... Read more
Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford, floral industry icon, dies
Barbara (Bobbi) Ann Ecker-Blatchford, 85, died at her home on Paw-Paw Lake near Watervliet, MI, Feb 3. Ms. Ecker-Blatchford devoted 60-plus years of her life to the floral industry, establishing innovative floral techniques and concepts, studying trends and acting as a mentor to many, according to a news release.Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford “Mom’s passing was quick and she was ‘being Bobbi’ right up until the moment she passed,” her daughter... Read more
California Giant hires director of foodservice
California Giant Berry Farms has appointed Tom Smith to the newly created position of director of foodservice, where he will complement the existing sales and marketing team. The company has seen incremental increases over the last few years in its foodservice customer base and realized the need to hire a specialist to provide strategic leadership for the future direction of this very important sales channel. Smith, who was recently with Pro*Act USA, will lead... Read more