Dick Spezzano (left) receives the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award Oct. 17 at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit from Jay Pack.
Dick Spezzano (left) receives the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award Oct. 17 at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit from Jay Pack.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Dick Spezzano was awarded the 2014 Robert L. Carey Leadership Award Oct. 17 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit.

Spezzano, president of Monrovia, Calif.-based Spezzano Consulting, was selected for the honor by four past PMA chairmen in recognition of outstanding leadership and an uncommon commitment to PMA and the produce industry.

“This is a man who epitomizes what it means to give back to the industry in which he’s worked for over 50 years,” said Jay Pack when presenting the award to Spezzano.

Pack, former owner and chief executive officer of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc., was the 2013 award recipient, and Mike O’Brien, who was at the time vice president of produce and floral at Schnuck Markets Inc., St. Louis, was the 2012 honoree.

Spezzano has long been a volunteer leader at the PMA, and was chairman of the PMA board in 1994. He was instrumental in helping the industry adopt standard Universal Price Codes and Price Look-Up numbers for produce, Pack said.

Known for “taking off your company hat and putting on your industry hat” when serving on industry committees, Spezzano’s example has been a touchstone for volunteer leaders at PMA, Pack said.

Spezzano recently became chairman of the board for the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent.

“(Dick) believes in reaching out to youth — to build healthy eating habits early and to attract the best and the brightest young talent,” Pack said. “Together with his wife Carole, he’s also set the bar by making a legacy gift to the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent.”

"This is really a special award for me personally because of Bob Carey,” Spezzano said.

When he was serving the PMA in the 1980s and 1990s, Carey taught him how give back to the industry and work more effectively with people Spezzano said.

Carey, who died in 2013, led the PMA from 1958 to 1996.