Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting Service, is the 2014 recipient of the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award for reflecting PMA's commitment to courage, community and character.
This year the award is especially meaningful as Bob Carey passed away late last year just weeks after Jay Pack, former owner and CEO of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co., received the 2013 award from PMA.
Pack presented Spezzano with the award at the Friday, Oct. 17 State of the Industry: Inspiring the Fresh Revolution brunch general session at Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California.
The following is a portion of Pack's presentation:
"A consummate professional, he spent most of his long career blazing the trail in California, where he moved early in life from Boston. He made the Vons chain recognized nationwide as best-in-class for produce merchandising.
He has always given back to his industry, serving on many committees and boards of PMA before rising to Chairman of the Board in 1994. Throughout that decade of service to PMA, he took the lead in corralling the industry to develop essential standard codes for produce – first using UPCs on bagged produce, then PLUs for bulk items. The impact of his leadership of the Produce Electronic Identification Board was felt across North America and has since spread across the globe. Imagine where we’d be if we didn’t have those codes.
Early in his leadership service, he coined the phrase that has captured the essence of industry service. Speaking at a PMA Board meeting, he reminded the group that 'when you walk into the PMA Board room, you take off your company hat and put on your industry hat.' That metaphor has since become a touchstone for PMA leadership behavior.
All of these accomplishments would be reason enough for our honoree to stand out. But what sets him even farther apart is what he did after he retired from the supermarket business.
He turned to consulting with retailers and suppliers alike. It’s not an easy transition going from the guy handing out purchase orders to the one asking for them! But for a decade and a half he has continued to keep his finger on the pulse of the industry, finding himself always in demand. I understand that he was retained as a mentor for PMA’s outgoing chairman Tim Riley early in Tim’s career.
He has continued being a tireless advocate for the industry and his community, raising funds for the the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent, Salad Bars to Schools campaign, and the City of Hope to name just a few. And now, at an age when most folks are slowing down in their retirement years, he has just taken on the role of Chairman of the Board of the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent. That means he rejoins the PMA Board in an ex-officio role 20 years after he chaired it. Nobody has ever done that before.
This is a man who epitomizes what it means to give back to the industry in which he’s worked for over 50 years. He believes in reaching out to youth – to build healthy eating habits early and to attract the best and the brightest young talent. Together with his wife Carole, he’s also set the bar by making a legacy gift to the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent. Talk about the power of commitment."