The Fresh Produce & Floral Council has chosen 12 class members for its apprentice program. The program, in its first year, is being sponsored by Dennis Gertmenian, founder and retired chief executive officer of Ready Pac Foods.

The participants are:


  • Alex Abid, FreshPoint Inc.;
  • Lauren Del Rosario, Gourmet Trading Co.;
  • Ricardo Frohmader, Val-Pro Inc., dba Valley Fruit & Produce;
  • Alexis Hartman, Tosca Ltd.;
  • Troy Le Cheminant, Westlake Produce Co.;
  • Monica Lira, Progressive Produce Corp.;
  • Lynnie Nojadera, Quebec Distributing Co.;
  • Billy Pasos, Ready Pac Foods;
  • Garland Perkins, The Oppenheimer Group;
  • Cindy Raley, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores;
  • Rachelle Schulken, Renaissance Food Group; and
  • Ting Seng, Sugar Foods Corp. and Fresh Gourmet Co. LLC.


The apprentice program was developed to provide exposure to the entire supply chain and experience in the produce industry’s challenges and opportunities. Apprentices will be assigned mentors to facilitate introductions at council membership luncheons and the Southern California Fresh Produce & Floral Expo in July.

The first class meeting will be May 7 at the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council offices, according to a news release. Tours, seminars and panel discussions will take place about every month, with the class graduating at the council’s dinner dance in January.

Gertmenian provided a $15,000 sponsorship for program expenses.

“Narrowing down to the final 12 proved to be a very difficult task; one of the hardest in the two-year process of getting the program started,” apprentice committee co-chair Kelly Craner, B&C Fresh Sales, said in the release. “All of the applicants brought impressive resumes and each one of them would have been assets to this first year.”

“We felt the necessity to keep the class at 12 members per year to allow the class to get the most out of each part of the program and to allow them to learn from each other,” said co-chair Andrew Bivens, Westlake Produce, in the release.