LA QUINTA, Calif. — As was his style for his 40 year career at Dole, Mike Cavallero deflected praise in accepting United Fresh’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’m very proud, but I’m realistic,” he said. “A lot of great partners, bosses and co-workers helped me.”
The award was presented Jan. 13 as part of the United Fresh Produce Association’s winter leadership meetings.
A handful of his peers spoke about Cavallero’s career during the presentation.
Former co-worker, but more recently competitor, Emanuel Lazopoulos, senior vice president for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA, called Cavallero one of the finest men he knows.
“You’re damn right I’m glad he retired, but not for the reason you think,” Lazopoulos said. “I can now talk, e-mail, and go to dinner with Mike and because of our positions we couldn’t do that the last 10 years.”
United Fresh chairman Ron Carkoski, president of Four Seasons Produce, said Cavallero is the personification of the saying “we rise by lifting others.”
Cavallero joined Dole Fresh Fruit Co. in 1974 in a technical services role. In 1983 he moved to the fresh vegetable division in sales in Salinas. He went to New York in 1984 as eastern division sales manager, and then back to Salinas in 1986 as vice president of sales for fresh vegetables.
In 1992, Cavallero returned to the fruit division as vice president of sales and marketing for tropical products. In 2001 he was promoted to president of North American tropical fresh fruit.
In his career, he served on the boards of both United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association. In 2013, The Packer honored him as Produce Man for All Seasons at United Fresh’s annual convention.