Orlando, Fla. – The importance of leadership and collaboration to the fresh produce and floral industry’s future were center stage when the Fresh Summit Convention & Expo’s first Forum for the Future got underway Oct. 18, as Joe Pezzini and Dave Corsi were honored with leadership awards. Pezzini, president and CEO of Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, California, received the 2018 Robert L. Carey Leadership Award while Corsi, vice president of produce & floral for Wegmans, Rochester, New York, received the 2018 Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award.
The annual leadership awards honor individuals who have demonstrated exceptional volunteer commitment to PMA and the fresh produce and floral industry, and outstanding collaborative leadership, respectively.
“These two gentlemen are always willing to bring to the table their talent, resources and most importantly their time to move our association and industry forward,” said PMA CEO Cathy Burns. “Without a doubt, the global fresh produce and floral industry is stronger because they are part of this community, and their ideas and insights have helped move PMA closer toward fulfilling its vision of building a healthier world.”
Pezzini receives Robert L. Carey Leadership Award
“This year’s recipient has been fearless in meeting industry challenges head on — most notably, issues of food safety,” said Bill Schuler, retired president and CEO of Castellini Group, Newport, Kentucky. “He is always a thoughtful and strategic person when sharing his thoughts on a subject and always considers the good of the entire industry.” Schuler, the 2017 Carey award recipient, presented Pezzini with this year’s award.
Among his leadership qualities, Pezzini was recognized for his mutual respect and appreciation of everyone he meets – a virtue for which he is admired throughout the industry. Schuler also noted Pezzini’s strong record of volunteer service with PMA and with other industry organizations. Among the many committees and task forces he gave his time to, Pezzini served on PMA’s Board of Directors and as co-chair of PMA’s Science & Technology Committee.
“It is an honor to be recognized by PMA as this year’s Robert L. Carey Leadership Award recipient,” said Pezzini. “I have been fortunate to be able to serve PMA and the industry in various leadership capacities over the years. I am grateful and proud to follow in the footsteps of Bob Carey and the previous award winners to serve the produce industry.”
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.
Corsi receives Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award
Corsi’s spirit of cooperation, leadership and dedication to the industry served as the foundation for being selected for the Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award, which was presented by Tim York, president of Markon, Salinas, California, and first recipient of the award in 2017.
“Our awardee doesn’t hesitate to get involved in industry issues, either chairing a project or working behind the scenes to make things happen,” said York in teasing out Corsi’s identity to the audience. “With a wide reputation for working across the supply chain, it’s no surprise to hear a colleague describe this year’s recipient as ‘a consensus builder with a special talent for achieving collaboration among diverse industry representatives.’”
Corsi has given many years of volunteer service to the produce industry through PMA – including as chair of the association’s Board of Directors and as a member of the Center for Growing Talent board. Corsi has also served on numerous PMA and Center for Growing Talent committees and task forces. In addition to his volunteer record and leadership, Corsi was also honored for his dedication to advancing food safety; he was recently named chair of Center for Produce Safety’s Board of Directors.
“I am honored, humbled and quite frankly blown away in being recognized for this award,” said Corsi, who credited his mentors and company’s founder for his collaborative style. “When you become a volunteer leader, taking quality time away from other areas of your life, sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone, you do all this in order to make a difference. Robert Wegman created our culture of taking care of our people first through respect, care and listening. It you don’t have those values, how do you collaborate?”
The award presentation also featured a short congratulatory video from Bryan Silbermann, who was not able to attend the ceremony. Named in his honor, the Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award was established in 2016 in recognition of his 30-year career at PMA, including 20 years as its president. It honors 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.
Corsi used the opportunity to call out the transformative work of Center for Produce Safety, and to call for more industry support of CPS’s work. “I’ll be collaborating with you all later about this,” he quipped.