Pushing a broom, bagging groceries and a love for produce fostered at an early age helped put a retail produce career on Kip Martin’s radar.

The 45-year-old produce and floral supervisor for Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s Family of Fine Stores started young, at age 14 at his family’s San Francisco Bay area independent grocer.

Kip Martin, Raley's Family of Fine StoresMartin credited his father, Rich Martin, now retired, for turning him toward a career in produce.

“I was really influenced by the years of him taking me to the San Francisco Produce Market,” Kip Martin said. “He encouraged me to go to produce over any other departments in the store.”

After working several years in his father’s store, Kip Martin in 1989 started at Bel Air, now a Raley’s banner. He worked his way up from produce manager to supervisor in 2001, earning a bachelor of science degree in business and marketing from Sacramento State University in the meantime.

Since then, he’s been involved in the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit, including participating in Fresh Summit’s Fresh Ideas Marketplace. He’s also mentored produce managers who have gone on to win United Fresh Produce Association Retail Produce Manager Awards.

“The best part of my job is probably teaching and coaching about produce,” he said. “I love opening new stores and doing re-sets and getting out to the farm and meeting growers.”

Martin also is known for being a judge for the PMA’s Impact Packaging Awards and as an advocate for innovation.

“The (Impact Awards) are very important for the produce industry,” he said.

Being a judge is a major time commitment, he said, but is very much worth it.

“It’s a great opportunity to see new types of packaging, and as someone with a marketing background I like seeing all that’s involved in taking it to market,” he said.

Martin says the biggest challenges are ones everyone faces — not enough time to see all the growers and to work people at store level. But the challenge of produce is one that keeps him motivated.

“It’s really a live item. It’s fresh and always changing,” he said. “You’re not just selling the same thing every day.”

Martin enjoys a challenge in is free time as well. He’s an avid extreme snowmobiler, and is into speed boating and traveling.