Supermarket Execs Discuss What Makes a Great Produce Manager

July 25, 2019

Following the United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards announcement this spring, industry magazine Produce Retailer reached out to five industry veterans on the question of what makes a great produce manager.

Produce Retailer spoke with Rob Ybarra, director of produce and floral for St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s; Jeff Cady, director of produce and floral for Williamsville, N.Y.-based tops Friendly Markets; Mike Orf, group vice president of produce purchasing for West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee; Scott Bennett, produce sales and merchandising manager with Itasca, Ill.-based Jewel-Osco, and Louis Scagnelli, director of produce and floral for Alpha 1 Marketing, an affiliate of White Plains, N.Y.-based Krasdale Foods.

Here’s what Jeff Cady had to say on the question of what makes a great produce manager:

“I think it starts with, they have to be hard-working,” Cady said. “It’s not a job for the faint of heart and the person that’s just willing to skirt by. They have to be hard-working. They have to be resourceful because there’s so many different things that get thrown their way and maybe there’s not a cut-and-dry answer, so they’re going to have to be able to bob and weave and be resourceful.

“Creative obviously is a key one, got to be smart because being able to order products and understand trends and try to keep inventory control, all those things that they’re accountable for, so they have to have a good head on their shoulders,” Cady said. “ … I’ve seen good produce managers that are great extroverts. There’s other ones that are introverts; I’ve seen both types succeed … As long as they’re genuinely personable, I think that that works. And then patient and good communication skills — and great merchandiser.”

For feedback from the rest of the group, check out the full Produce Retailer article here.