It’s no surprise Hy-Vee’s produce managers show up in the United Fresh Produce Association’s Retail Produce Manager Awards year after year.
That’s thanks in part to Doug Riley’s leadership.
“He and the Hy-Vee team are passionate about recognizing the produce superstars on the front line and have embraced this program as an integral part of their company’s commitment to excellence,” said Victoria Backer, senior vice president of member services for United Fresh Produce Assocaition, Washington, D.C.
“This is always evident when you hear the cheers from the overflowing Hy-Vee crowd echo throughout the room at our annual awards banquet.”
Riley, assistant vice president for produce operations for West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc., said the company celebrates the awards at all levels.
“It has become quite an honor in our company to even be nominated, let alone be a finalist,” he said. “A lot of the winners aren’t doing a whole lot extra — they’ve done this for years and are just telling their stories now. We really feel that we have some of the best produce managers in the nation.”
Riley, 53, has been with Hy-Vee for 37 years — his entire career. He started as a part time carry-out clerk in 1973.
“I went straight into produce and worked up the ladder,” he said.
After managing several produce departments, he was named a produce supervisor in 1990 and assistant vice president in 2000.
“I think the best thing about produce is the changing of the seasons and the different mix that you get throughout the year,” Riley said.
Produce always has something different to offer, and with the nation’s focus on eating healthfully, the job is more challenging — and exciting — than ever.
“We just started doing the NuVal nutritional scoring system, and produce is the best recipient for that,” he said. “It’s a win-win for us.”
Riley’s enthusiasm for produce is a big part of the reason that Hy-Vee produce departments are so successful, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc.
“He is a great example of the Hy-Vee culture and integrity in the fact that he truly partners with agriculture to bring the best products to market,” he said. “When it comes to marketing and promoting our healthy products there is no better example of success than Doug.”