After a distinguished 42-year career at Schnuck Markets Inc., Mike O’Brien is soon retiring and appears ready to take on another challenge in the fresh produce industry.

O’Brien, vice president of produce and floral for the Maryland Heights, Mo.-based chain, said July 31 that he will work at his post through the end of October and then consider his options.

O’Brien said he loved his years at Schnuck Markets, which began when he was hired as a bagger during his college years in 1972. He was promoted to store manager in 1983 and division manager in 1990, and accepted his current position in 2001.

“I’ve been at Schnucks for a good long time,” he said. “It is time to spread my wings and do something else.”

The Packer named O’Brien its 2009 Marketer of the Year; O’Brien also was named Produce Merchandising magazine’s Retailer of the Year in 2004.

He served as chairman of the board of directors of the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association in 2010-11, and served as chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation in 2007. O’Brien was co-chairman of the joint task force leading PMA’s and United Fresh Produce Association’s merger discussions. Those talks concluded without an agreement in July 2012.

In the fall of 2012, O’Brien was presented with the first-ever Robert L. Carey Leadership Award by PMA.

O’Brien received his bachelor’s in business administration from Lindenwood College and his M.B.A. from St. Louis University