ABINGDON, VA (Monday, May 14, 2012) – John Ballard, produce manager for the LaFollette, Tennessee Food City was recently named among the 2012 Retail Produce Manager of the Year Award Winners. Each year, United Fresh Produce Association recognizes the top 25 produce managers within the industry during their annual convention. This year’s honorees were recognized at the Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.
“These men and women represent the “best of the best” in our industry,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh President & CEO. “Through their creative efforts and interaction with customers, they’re making produce a centerpiece of the retail shopping experience and wowing consumers everyday.”
The candidates were selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by supermarket chains, commissaries and independent retail stores throughout the industry. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the areas of produce merchandising/marketing, community service and commitment to total customer satisfaction.
Ballard is an exceptional merchandiser and coordinates with his fellow department managers to create unique and innovative displays and cross merchandising opportunities. He is a strong advocate of locally grown produce and works extensively with local growers to ensure his customer’s receive the freshest product possible. Ballard is committed to educating his customers on the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet and also works with area schools, hosting tours and speaking with students about the benefits of a healthy diet and introducing them to items within the department. He has implemented a number of creative community related programs, including the “Breakfast with Santa”. Dressed as Santa, Ballard distributed bananas (rather than sugary candy) to area children during the Christmas Holiday. He hosted an in-store Watermelon Eating Contest, distributing prizes and discussing the health benefits of watermelon. Ballard teamed with a local school to raise awareness for energy conservation, visiting the school to talk with students about ways to conserve energy and the health and environmental benefits provided by organic produce. Ballard is active within his community, serving as a long-time certified “foster parent”, working with his local Department of Child Services and assisting with fundraising efforts. He also regularly works with local bee keepers to help ensure the adequate pollination of area plants and trees.
“John is an extremely creative and talented merchandiser and marketer. He’s dedicated to his customers, his fellow associates and the community,” said Mike Tipton, director of produce operations for Food City. “We’re proud to have him serve as a member of our Food City produce management team and we certainly congratulate him and his store team on this great honor.”
Food City associates were also named award winners in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia, K-VA-T Food Stores operates 105 retail food outlets throughout the tri-state regions of Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.