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CGT’s new award recognizes Dachman for attracting talent

Two leaders deeply involved in growing the industry’s talent base were honored in October by the Produce Marketing Association at its Fresh Summit convention with a new annual award recognizing that work.

Sysco Corp. Vice President of Produce Rich Dachman received the Center for Growing Talent’s inaugural Jay Pack Cultivating Our Future Award on Oct. 17. The award was named after Pack in honor of his many year commitment to the effort, and Dachman became the first recipient recognizing his longtime commitment to attracting talent to the fresh produce and floral industry.6 Rich-Dachman-Head-ShotRich Dachman

The award was presented by its namesake and CGT Vice President Alicia Calhoun.

“Rich personifies what this award stands for,” Calhoun said while presenting the award. “He works tirelessly not only to increase access to fruits and vegetables, but also to invest in the future of our industry’s talent — as a mentor, as a recruiter, as an advocate for young people and women in our industry.”

Later, Calhoun told The Produce News that the Sysco executive “is one who is always willing to put his hand up when we need help. Whether it’s mentoring a student, hosting a tour or sitting on a panel, he is always first in line to help. He is very focused on our attraction strategy.”

Dachman, who grew up in the industry and has been with Sysco for almost three decades, has mentored Career Pathways students every year since 2008. Sysco FreshPoint has hired several students, and Dachman remains a mentor to many of his now-industry colleagues.

‘I could not be more proud to receive this recognition,” he said. “The students teach me more than I could ever instill upon them. For me, this is what it is all about. I believe when you make an investment in people, it continues to pay off long after you are gone. To be recognized for this important and rewarding work is so humbling. Thanks to Sysco for the continued support in this endeavor, and thanks to Center for Growing Talent for allowing me the opportunity.”

Dachman told The Produce News that the effort to staff this industry with young talent is far from over. “It is a work in progress. I am very pleased with the progress that has been made, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

He said the industry’s makeup is starting to change, but as a traditionally male-dominated industry, there needs to add more diversity. He said the efforts by PMA and others to attract new people to the industry is an integral part of the program “but it can’t be the sole solution.”

He said industry members need to tell their stories and spread the word to increase the level of exposure to new people entering the workforce.

Dachman, who has been working with these young people for more than a decade, said the notion that “millennials have workplace issues is not true.” He said they are a hard-working group and they represent today’s consumers.

Calhoun agreed, noting that the Center for Growing Talent’s new Immersion Academy is a continuation of the work and will almost double the exposure on an annual basis. She characterized the program as being “very successful” but agreed more work has to be done, indicating that there are still many people and companies in the industry that don’t know it exists. “Those who know about us, know the work we do, but there are many others who don’t.”

The Jay Pack Cultivating Our Future Award was created to recognize an industry member each year that is striving to attract talent by sharing their passion for and insights about industry careers, and to encourage others to do the same.

The award is named for Pack, former chief executive officer of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co., who envisioned a new program to attract top university students to industry careers and was the first sponsor of the activity.

The first Career Pathways was held at PMA’s Fresh Summit in 2004. To date, more than 1,000 university students have participated with about two-thirds taking jobs or internships in the industry.  About three-quarters of those remain in the industry today.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to have Center for Growing Talent offer an award in my name recognizing an individual who supports attracting talent to our industry,” Pack said. “While the original Pack Career Pathways Program has exceeded expectations and its success has been extremely gratifying, on a personal note, this award is certainly a career highlight.”

He told The Produce News that Dachman was the perfect choice for this year’s award. “I cannot say enough about Rich and his willingness to give back. I’ve watched it both from afar and close up.”  

Pack said he was particularly impressed with the effort that Dachman brings to the ambassador program. He said the Sysco executive never delegates the mentorship responsibility but rather involves the student in every aspect of his job and takes the concept very seriously.

Pack said the entire effort to attract young people to the industry has exceeded expectations during the 14 years of the program. He said the data speaks for itself when counting the number of people that have found industry jobs and the percentage of those who have stayed in the industry.

Moving forward, he would like to see an enhanced networking platform for students looking for careers and companies looking to hire. He also noted that he is pleasantly surprised each year by those in the industry, like Dachman, who invest their time in the program. Conversely, he also is surprised when he runs across produce executive who have not yet heard of the program.