Alfonso Cano (left), outgoing chairman of the Anaheim, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council and director of produce and floral for the Lucky banner of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC, passes the gavel to 2019 chairman Andrew Bivens, chief operating officer at Westlake Produce Co., Irwindale, Calif., at the FPFC’s annual dinner dance Jan. 26. ( Tom Burfield )

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council will continue to focus on its four-year-old Apprentice Program and possibly expand its educational platform to include more experienced industry members.

 The FPFC’s new board chairman Andrew Bivens, chief operating officer for Westlake Produce Co., Irwindale, Calif., outlined those plans recently before the group’s annual dinner dance at Disney’s Grand California Hotel on Jan. 26.

Brian Cook, president of Pete’s Living Greens, Carpinteria, Calif., is chairman-elect; and Sean McClure, national procurement director for Bonduelle Fresh Americas (formerly Ready Pac), Irwindale, is secretary/treasurer. 

Outgoing chairman Alfonso Cano, director of produce and floral for the Lucky banner of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC, is the FPFC’s immediate past chair representative.

Connie Stukenberg, retail marketing director for the California Avocado Commission, is past chair representative.

Bivens kicked off his produce career at Compton, Calif.-based Ralphs Grocery Co., a division of Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. During his 12 years there, he was a produce clerk, produce manager, inspector and category manager.

In 2002, he joined Westlake Produce Co. as a salesman, and he has been involved with the FPFC for more than 15 years. He’s served on several FPFC committees and currently chairs a task force that is developing an executive program geared to preparing middle management employees and above for higher leadership positions at their companies, he said.

“We’ll be talking about tools that even folks at the CEO level will want to experience,” Bivens said.

The dinner dance marked the completion of the 2018 FPFC Apprentice Program.

Cano, said Apprentice Program participants don’t have to be in sales or buying to take part.

“It involves every aspect of the business,” he said.

To date, 48 members of the produce industry have completed the program.

Cano said the FPFC also has entered an expansion mode, transitioning from a local organization to one that will seek participation from members of the produce industry across the country and around the world.

One way of accomplishing that goal is through the annual FPFC Expo, which featured an opening-night event at Disney California Adventure Park in July.

“We’re trying to make it more of an event that uses the resources we have available here in California that are unique versus other parts of the country,” he said.

“By offering an event like that, it gives us a competitive advantage to (attract) people outside the immediate area,” Cano said.

New members of the board of directors are:

  • Paul Kneeland, Gelson’s Markets;
  • Kori Martin, The Oppenheimer Group;
  • Lynnie Nojadera, Quebec Distributing Co.;
  • Sheryl Salazar, Albertsons/Vons;
  • Michael Schutt, Raley’s Supermarkets;
  • Dannie Timblin, Edge Sales & Marketing; and
  • Paige Venable, Vallarta Supermarkets.
 
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