(June 23) ANAHEIM, Calif. — Harland Heath, partner in Heath & Lejeune Inc., Los Angeles, was named the first recipient of the Norman H. “Buz” Bolstad Produce Award presented by the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, Buena Park.
The award was a highlight of the day-long Fresh Produce & Floral Council Expo at the Disneyland Hotel June 22. The honor previously was called the Southern California Produce Achievement Award, but was renamed this year for the council’s first president, who died in February.
The award recognizes Heath’s 60 years in the produce industry, which began at age 11 when he started sweeping floors for 10 cents an hour at a corner grocery store in Highland Park.
He went on to work for Boys Markets and Alpha Beta stores before joining the National Guard and serving in Korea.
After his time in the service, he returned to Alpha Beta, then joined a handful of people from the industry in 1955 to launch Pantry Markets.
As the youngest of the founders, he was “awarded” the produce department, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of merchandising for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine, and last year’s award winner.
“That meant that he would be the one to go early every morning to Los Angeles to get the day’s produce,” she said.
The Pantry grew to nearly 20 stores before Heath joined the Ed Miller Co. as a wholesale broker, and five years later he moved to the William Hooker Co.
In 1981, he founded Heath & Lejeune with Pat Lejeune and adopted the slogan “Service with Integrity.”
Heath was a founding member of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council and remains honorary past chairman representative.