ANAHEIM, CA -- Two industry icons were recognized with separate awards for their dedication and service to the produce industry Oct. 17 during the opening general session of the PMA Fresh Summit convention and exposition, here.
Rich Dachman, a longtime executive at Sysco who retired from that company in June and is now chief executive officer of Brighter Bites, received the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award in recognition for his 40-plus years of service to the industry. A past chairman of the Produce Marketing Association, Dachman also served on the Fresh Summit Committee and the PMA Foodservice Conference Steering Committee. He has also been deeply involved with PMA's Center for Growing Talent, and in fact was recognized last year with the CGT's Jay Pack Cultivating Our Future Award.
In presenting the award to Dachman, Joe Pezzini, president and chief executive officer of Ocean Mist Farms and the 2018 winner of the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award, called Dachman an influencer and a mentor to many in the industry.
"Rich is intelligent and a straight-talker who is not afraid to speak up," said Pezzini.
In accepting the award, Dachman said he was "ecstatic" to learn that he would be receiving it and "humbled to be in the company of past award winners.
"It is my belief that we as an industry can change people's lives for the better," he said.
The Robert L. Carey Leadership Award was established in 2012 in honor of former PMA president Robert L. Carey, who led PMA from 1958 to 1996, taking it from an organization with fewer than 100 members focused on produce packaging to a vertically integrated association of thousands. His vision of bringing buyers and sellers together positioned PMA to become the global association it is today.
Vic Smith, chief executive officer of JV Smith Cos., was presented with the Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award for his efforts to unite the industry behind food safety.
In presenting the award to Smith, Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral for Wegman's and the 2018 award recipient, highlighted the fact that Smith donated farmland to be used to research Romaine lettuce with regard to food-safety outbreaks.
"It was no small investment, and Vic did it because it was the right thing to do," said Corsi. "He brought people together for a common cause."
Other factors taken into consideration included his service on the industry's Romaine Task Force, his extensive work with Western Growers Association and the Center for Produce Safety, and the fact that he was a key player in the Produce Traceability Initiative. He has also been a longtime supporter of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and has supported many charitable causes in his community, including Power Plate, which encourages young Arizona schoolchildren to eat more fresh produce. Smith recently received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Smith said he was humbled to receive the award and recognized his team at JV Smith for making it possible. "I get to take the credit, but I have a wonderful team behind me that allows me to contribute to the industry," he said.
The Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award was established in 2016 in recognition of Silbermann's 30-year career at PMA, including 20 years as its president. The award recognizes an individual's collaborative leadership style in uniting industry members or organizations, including those outside the honoree's own organization, to realize mutually beneficial solutions to an industry issue.