Doug OhlemeierDan Wohlford (from left), national sales representative for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneonta Starr Ranch, talks with Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc.’s John Glaser and Tim Graas, managers of produce field procurement, before the March 1 keynote luncheon at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure 2014 in Orlando, Fla. (UPDATED COVERAGE, March 1) ORLANDO, Fla. — The Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure continued March 1 with a keynote luncheon and the opening of the trade show floor.
“It’s time to get the game on now,” said Bobby Creel, Southern Exposure 2014 chairman and director of business development for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., as he introduced luncheon speaker Bill Cowher, former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and CBS Sports NFL analyst.
“We have 900-plus people in the room now," Creel said. "That’s a long way from when we started in Lakeland.”
Cowher told coaching stories and leadership vignettes, urging attendees to remain on the top of their businesses.
“The key is to stay on top of changes, be informed and I encourage you to be a part of the future,” Cowher said.
On Feb. 27, members teed off during inclement weather at the inaugural Tom Page Golf Classic at the Reunion Resort & Club.
On Feb. 28, members crowded sessions focused on “Customer connections: How to make the most of your meeting” and “How digital is affecting produce shopping trends at the Caribe Royal Resort & Conference Center.
Reggie Griffin, former vice president at Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., and owner of Reggie Griffin Strategies in Hilton Head, S.C., moderated the first session, which expanded to discussions of the definition of local produce.
“For my suppliers, it’s quality first and I need you to deliver,” said Teri Miller, produce category manager for Food Lion LLC in Salisbury, N.C. “Don’t interrupt my supply chain. Don’t come in here berating your competitors. I need for you to come to the table and really provide value. What are we going to do to sell more produce?
“It’s not about what you can do to get into my warehouse but what are we going to do to better serve our end consumers.” Miller said.
John Avola, founder and managing partner with Memphis, Tenn.-based Idea Garden Marketing, discussed the new consumer habits and how up to 80% of Gen-Y and 75% of Gen-X members use mobile devices for shopping-related activities.
“Consumers don’t shop in a linear fashion anymore,” Avola said. “All digital consumers are hyperconnected and are always connected. They research and like to know what they buy before they buy it.
“They want to go beyond just purchasing that product. They want to be known, want to be recognized and given the information they need at that time,” he said.
The March 1 trade show included nearly 300 exhibiting companies.