Progressive Produce, one of America’s premier produce companies, has a lot to celebrate. And they invited industry leaders, their strategic partners, employees and families to join them in an anniversary party a half-century in the making.
Guests of honor were Progressive Produce founder, Nace Cohen and family as well as the family of co-founder Charles Gilb who joined a festive group of well-wishers for a cocktails and dinner on October 28th at the Hyatt Regency Resort in Huntington Beach, California.
Guests had a special treat as retail industry icon, Kevin Coupe spoke about the exciting evolution and opportunities in the industry. And closing out the presentation were heartfelt remarks from president Jim Leimkuhler.
But the star of the evening was Progressive Produce itself. The lights were dimmed and guests were treated to the premier showing of a video history of 50 Progressive Years. Featuring never seen archival photos and interviews with executives and associates, it detailed the dramatic story of Progressive’s rise from their inception in 1967.
As Charles Gilb put it, they started with a sales staff of one, an office staff of one, and a fleet consisting of one truck. But Gilb and cofounder Nace Cohen had an idea to create a company that put customer service first. And management has always pursued any innovation that would make their strategic partnerships more and more successful—with growers and with customers.
Highpoints in the history included the original founders’ sale to Chiquita Brands in 1988, the arrival of Jim Leimkuhler in 1996, the formation of a winning executive team with Jack Gyben, Victor Rodarte and Larry Holder, and the eventual buyback of the company from Chiquita in 2003. More recently, TOTAL PRODUCE, a European powerhouse based in Dublin, Ireland acquired a 65% interest in Progressive in February 2016. And earlier this year, Progressive merged with its longtime partner Keystone Fruit Marketing of Greencastle, PA. It was a tremendous accomplishment, adding value to both companies.
Over its 50-year history, Progressive Produce has a lot to be proud of including creation of their Olé Pacifica® brand with over 100 SKUs, their Nature’s Bounty Organic®, Pacific Gold®, MicroBaker®, and Hollywood Fries® brands.
Perhaps most impressive is the huge growth of their Americas Asparagus® brand. Created to bring high quality year-round asparagus to their customer’s stores, its growth has made it one of their most important brands sold throughout the United States and Canada.
The theme of the evening seemed to always come back to people, with pride in the quality and commitment of an outstanding team being echoed repeatedly throughout the evening.
Now that the celebration is over, Progressive Produce is looking forward to a future filled with more success, more innovation, and ever-growing opportunities for their fantastic employee team. This is true more than ever with Progressive Produce being a part of the Total Produce global family of companies.
The celebration of the past 50 years was only overshadowed by the excitement about the future.
As president Leimkuhler says, “Fifty years is only the beginning.”
Source: Progressive Produce