But many of you have known her for the entire 50 years since she founded Frieda’s Finest/Produce Specialties in 1962.
At our dinner to honor Frieda, I know we will all join in saying thank you to our friend and colleague who has done so much to bring the joy of fresh produce to consumers everywhere.
We’ll also point to Frieda as a role model and talk about her good works.
When Frieda started her business on the male-dominated Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, she was one of the first women to own and operate a U.S. produce business.
She broke glass ceilings when they were more likely made of concrete, and she forged a reputation as a savvy marketer and a driven business entrepreneur that could match anyone in the produce business.
For many of you, you’ve been able to watch Frieda up close or from afar, learning skills to be applied in your own business career.
But the impact of this award will go beyond us saying thank you, or simply pointing to Frieda’s work of the past 50 years for lessons learned.
Frieda’s story will inspire those who haven’t worked closely with her, those who haven’t met her, those who don’t know her company, and even those who might say “Frieda who?”
A lifetime of achievement in any industry requires passion, perseverance, faith, family, and so much more. That is the story that takes this particular honor to another level.
It is the story of a person in our industry, and in our case, it is our honor to be able to recognize Frieda Caplan.
So if you ask me why we honor individuals like Frieda, it is of course to say thank you, and to point to her lifetime of achievements.
But even more, it is to inspire you. Whether you’ve traveled a similar path in the produce business, or are just starting out and trying to figure out your way, know that great things are accomplished in this industry by great people.
Our industry changes the way the world eats, and one individual can make that difference.
I hope you will join me in honoring Frieda Caplan at our Produce Legends Dinner in Tucson in January.
Tom Stenzel is president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
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