SEPC Membership Information

History of the SEPC

In 1999, the Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) was formed by six members who had a vision for a Southeastern-based produce organization. The members met at the Atlanta Farmer’s Market in August 1999. The first formal meeting of the Southeast Produce Council was held in Charlotte, NC with 100 produce professionals from across all areas of the industry in attendance. An innovative produce organization emerged which has grown to over 2500 members and continues to grow at a steady pace. Today, the council stands behind its Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals…

Our Vision

To be the premier produce resource in the Southeast.

Our Mission

To provide networking, innovative, community, and educational opportunities while offering a platform for building professional relationships based on trust, integrity, and passion.

Our Values

Integrity Morals Passionate Accountable Charitable Teamwork

Our Goals

1. To promote the consumption of fresh fruits & vegetables in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia through good fellowship, cooperation, and mutual interest among its members.

2. Instill a high sense of professionalism and loyalty to each other.

3. Support charitable causes in the Southeastern communities.

MEMBER BENEFITS

We invite anyone working in the produce industry to join the regional council leading the industry in networking, innovative, charitable, and educational opportunities. We offer a variety of benefits for personal and professional growth.

Networking

SEPC members from ten states in the Southeast will enjoy unique opportunities to network and tap into invaluable sources of professional ideas. Regularly scheduled events like Southern Exposure – our annual retail and foodservice conference and expo (early March) and Southern Innovations - our annual organics and foodservice conference and expo (late-September) provide excellent networking and learning opportunities.

Innovation

The SEPC is leading the industry with programs that foster innovative ideas and techniques to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the Southeast.

Community

The SEPC is proud to be able to allocate a percentage of funds generated from our events, sponsorships, and memberships to support charitable causes in the Southeastern communities. We also invite our members to experience the immeasurable feeling of giving back by volunteering and donating products to the charities we support.

Education

We offer numerous educational seminars at our conferences and throughout the year that address major industry issues and trends. Membership provides admission to all educational workshops.

MEMBERSHIP OPTIONS

Corporate Membership

Corporate memberships are available for 1-5 members, 6-10 members, or 11-15 members based on your company’s needs. Corporate members are entitled to all membership benefits provided by the council.

2-5 Members: $750 | 6-10 Members: $1500 | 11-15 Members: $2,250

Additional Corporate Member

  • Benefits Booth Space at Southern Exposure: As a corporate member, companies are entitled to enter the booth lottery for an exhibit space at our annual Southern Exposure trade show. Please note as of March 2015, individual members must upgrade to a corporate membership to retain any existing booth space at Southern Exposure.
  • Booth Space at Southern Innovations: As a corporate member, companies are entitled to a first-come, first-choice opportunity to obtain a booth, depending on your company’s sponsorship level.
  • Member Scholarship Program: Corporate members that are in good standing are eligible to apply for our annual member scholarship program. Eligible applicants must have a spouse or parent that is a corporate member with good standing status of the SEPC and has attended at least one (1) SEPC event in the last year. Each July, $2,000 scholarships are awarded to all eligible applicants that meet the scholarship criteria.
  • STEP-UPP: Our retail and foodservice members are eligible to participate in our industry training program, STEP-UPP in February – September.

Individual Membership

Entitles member access to SEPC events. Some program exclusions may apply.

1 Member: $175

NETWORKING

Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure is the premier produce networking event in the industry. It provides the most intimate setting with one of the largest retail and foodservice audience attendance in the industry today. This 3-day event includes networking, innovative, community, and educational opportunities which promote the produce industry in the Southeast.

Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo

Southern Innovations is the SEPC’s newest trade show platform. This groundbreaking event for our retail and foodservice members showcases the most innovative products in organics and foodservice within the produce industry while still maintaining the intimate setting that our members have grown to appreciate. From data-centric educational workshops to engaging keynote speakers, Southern Innovations offers members abundant opportunities to make meaningful connections while pursuing our passion in produce.

Southern Roots

Southern Roots is our leadership program for women in produce. This program is designed to make meaningful connections among women working in the produce industry through events, education, and mentoring. By sharing values, contributions, and experiences, participants will have an opportunity to improve leadership skills individually and collectively — and will then positively affect organizational effectiveness at all levels. Southern Roots meets annually at Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo. Connect with the ladies of Southern Roots on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you are interested in becoming involved with Southern Roots, please contact us at info@seproducecouncil.com.

INNOVATION

An innovative spirit has always been present within the SEPC that is constantly evolving to provide fresh ideas for our industry. Innovation is at the heart of all that we do at the SEPC, and we strive to ensure this innovative spirit exists within all four of the SEPC pillars.

Networking

The SEPC leads the industry in ensuring that a trade show is more than just an event, it is an experience. We were the first to provide this enriching experience for participants where meaningful relationships are created, nurtured, and solidified year after year.

Innovation

The SEPC will be working with numerous governmental agencies and economic development companies to promote the Southeast region as a prominent place to open or relocate agriculture-related businesses.

Community

A priority at the SEPC is to support organizations that promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The SEPC currently supports 11+ charitable organizations and has given over $900,000 in charitable donations.

Education

The SEPC has always provided and will continue to provide exceptional, out-of-the-box educational workshops, ensuring that our members receive quality education about the produce industry as well as other best practices for produce companies. The SEPC provides multiple scholarship opportunities each year and has awarded a total of $500,000+ in scholarships to date.

COMMUNITY

The SEPC is proud to support non-profit organizations that help children and families in need across the Southeast. With the help of our members, we are able to contribute volunteer hours, product donations, and financial support year-round to help make a difference in the lives of local children and families. We thank all of our members who are actively involved in our community outreach efforts and invite anyone who is interested to get involved!

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

In the SEPC’s continuing effort to help fight childhood obesity and educate the public about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, we are proud to partner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life program, a wellness movement designed to ignite societal change and reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity and its associated diseases in Georgia. Strong4Life reaches families through public awareness, policy change efforts, school programs, healthcare provider programs, community partnerships, and more, with a goal of improving family nutrition, making physical activity habits fun, and providing parents and caregivers the support they need to accomplish their goals. The SEPC supports the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life Superhero Sprint and Strong Legs Runs each year in June and November in Atlanta through the donation of volunteer hours, products, and fundraising. We are always in need of products for our tent, hands on help at the event, and participants/fundraisers!

Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children

Located in Orlando, FL, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is a sanctuary of hope and healing. The most advanced technology coupled with compassion and dedication have made Arnold Palmer Hospital one of the most trusted names in children’s healthcare worldwide. With 158 pediatric beds, careful attention has been paid to creating a cheerful, comforting environment to minimize stress and generate smiles. The SEPC is proud to provide funding each year to help make sure those visiting this hospital get the best care possible.

COMMUNITY

Paul Anderson Youth Home

The Paul Anderson Youth Home is home to Paul Anderson Ministries, existing to serve troubled youth between the ages of 16 – 21 from all over the country by providing a Christian home environment in which they can rebuild their broken lives through Recovery, Restoration, and Redemption. The SEPC has been able to help donate funds and bring projects like the Goodness Garden to life to help supply fresh fruits and vegetables and teach the boys about horticulture and the basic care and nurturing needed to grow produce. We have also provided resources and man hours to build a chicken coop for the boys and continue to support the solid foundation and life education PAYH is instilling in each and every one of those young men.

Society of St. Andrew

Through our partnership with the Society of St. Andrew we are able do our part to help feed America’s hungry. In addition to financial support, the SEPC is honored to work with the Society of St. Andrew to provide truckloads of food to one of our other benefitting charities, RAMP in rural Appalachia, as well as donate all leftover food from Southern Exposure each year to help those who are hungry in the Southeast. To date, the SEPC has become the largest distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables to the needy in the Tampa and Orlando areas, feeding over 300 families!

Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project (R.A.M.P.)

Martin County, Kentucky lies in the heart of rural Appalachia, home to some of the most impoverished people in the United States. RAMP works to identify critical needs and create solutions focusing on nutrition, economic development, and emergency relief intervention with a special focus on children and families in Martin County. Through our partnership with RAMP, the Society of St. Andrew, and very dedicated and giving members of the SEPC, we are able to provide fresh produce annually to this undernourished area.

EDUCATION

STARS (Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship)

STARS is the Southeast Produce Council’s scholarship program available to outstanding students who are agriculture majors in Southeast-based land grant universities. The goal of STARS is to recruit top students and to introduce them to job opportunities in the produce industry.

Application Process

  • Ideal candidates are rising seniors in undergraduate majors related to the growing and marketing of produce and related products. Minimum 3.2 GPA or higher.
  • Additionally, it is preferred that students have demonstrated an interest in growing and/or marketing of produce.
  • Scholarship recipients will be expected to attend the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure Conference & Expo. The Southeast Produce Council will cover travel expenses to this event. The scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to meet with over two hundred produce industry grower/shippers as well as the nation’s leading retailers and foodservice distributors.

STEP-UPP (Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals)

STEP-UPP provides an enriched learning experience for high potential retail and foodservice produce professionals. Candidates develop a greater understanding of the industry through strategic orientation, personal leadership, and hands on field experience. Ten (10) individuals are selected through an application and interview process based on leadership experience and interest in developing a career in fresh produce. Potential candidates must be active members of the SEPC.

Strategic Orientation

Business growth occurs through strategic planning and partnerships. This program will broaden the participants’ strategic view of the fresh produce industry through supply chain overviews, collaborative business planning, category development, and key performance indicator discussions.

EDUCATION

Personal Leadership & Networking

The success of all good leaders depends on personal development and relationship building. Education may include leadership styles, managing for performance, negotiation strategy, and opportunities to meet with other SEPC members.

Field Experience

Application is an important part of all education. The emphasis in this area will be to gain an understanding of how to partner with growers more effectively to build mutually beneficial relationships.

PIT (Produce Inspection Training)

The Produce Inspection Training program is a two day course intended for quality control personnel, produce buyers, produce inventory control personnel, and other company associates involved in the receiving, handling, buying, and shipping of fresh produce. A certificate of completion will be awarded to each attendee who completes both the spring and fall courses. Mr. Tom Yawman of International Produce Training (IPT) will conduct the training. Please note that this class is limited to 20 attendees. Registration is on a first-come first-serve basis and priority will be given to SEPC members.

LINKS

LINKS is an educational leadership program where exceptional, qualified individuals in the Grower/Shipper community connect with Retail/Foodservice providers in the Southeast. Taking place during Southern Exposure, the annual LINKS Summit is designed to create a non-competitive environment to facilitate exchange of ideas, learning, interaction, networking, and enhanced understanding of the retail supply chain to achieve the overall goals to better service consumers and drive consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Southeast. Exhibiting Grower/Shippers will be invited upon request of participating Retail/Foodservice members. Upon selection, both parties will then be assigned a location and time in which their meeting will take place at Southern Exposure.

GROWER & SHIPPER INFO

Our Grower and Shipper members with “active corporate membership” will receive:

  • Access to both Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations at published member prices

  • Access to the Member Scholarship Program
    (does not apply to members with “active individual membership”)

  • Sponsorship opportunities

  • Yearly entry into the booth lottery for Southern Exposure (if not currently exhibiting as a Bronze Level or above sponsor)

  • Yearly access to booth availability for Southern Innovations as booth space permits

   

SERVICE COMPANY INFO

Our Service Company members with “active corporate membership” will receive:

  • Access to both Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations at published member prices

  • Access to the Member Scholarship Program
    (does not apply to members with “active individual membership”)

  • Sponsorship opportunities

  • Yearly entry into the booth lottery for Southern Exposure (if not currently exhibiting as a Bronze Level or above sponsor)
RETAIL & FOODSERVICE INFO

Our Retail and Foodservice members with “active corporate membership” will receive:

  • Complimentary hotel stay for each event
    (Must attend SEPC functions to validate)

  • Complimentary airfare for each event
    (Change fees will be paid by attendee)

  • Complimentary registration for each event

  • Complimentary golf for each event
    (based on venue availability – revised 7/31/2017)

  • Access to the Member Scholarship Program
    (does not apply to members with “active individual membership”)

  • Access to Produce Inspection Training
    (maximum class size 20)

  • Access to the STEP-UPP Program
    (application required)

SPONSOR BENEFITS

GOLD (15,000+)

  • $2,500 “Gold Sponsor Discount” for events (can be used toward golf, ticketed events, and/or booth associate fees at Southern Exposure, and/or activities at Southern Innovations)
  • Premium booth space (Sponsor’s Row) at Southern Exposure
  • 1 complimentary golf hole sponsorship at both Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations
  • 1st Right of refusal of branding opportunities (event signage)
  • 2 sponsorships at Southern Exposure
  • 1 sponsorship at Southern Innovations
  • Company/Organization recognized as a Gold Level Sponsor in event directories, power point presentations, and on the SEPC website
  • Use of the SEPC logo and name in their publications throughout the year
  • 1 complimentary full page company/organization ad in Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations directories

Silver ($10,000 - $14,999)

  • $1,500 “Silver Sponsor Discount” for events (can be used toward golf, ticketed events, and/or booth associate fees at Southern Exposure, and/or activities at Southern Innovations)
  • Premium booth space (End Caps) at Southern Exposure
  • 1 complimentary golf hole sponsorship at Southern Exposure
  • 1st Right of refusal of branding opportunities (event signage)
  • 1 sponsorship at Southern Exposure
  • 1 sponsorship at Southern Innovations
  • Company/Organization recognized as a Silver Level Sponsor in event directories, power point presentations, and on the SEPC website
  • Use of the SEPC logo and name in their publications throughout the year
  • 1 complimentary half page company/organization ad in Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations directories (revised 7/31/2017)

SPONSOR BENEFITS

Bronze ($5,000 - $9,999)

  • $800 “Bronze Sponsor Discount” for events (can be used toward golf, ticketed events, and/or booth associate fees at Southern Exposure, and/or activities at Southern Innovations)
  • 1st Right of refusal of branding opportunities (event signage)
  • 1 sponsorship at either Southern Exposure or Southern Innovations
  • Company/Organization recognized as a Bronze Level Sponsor in event directories, power point presentations, and on the SEPC website
  • Use of the SEPC logo and name in their publications throughout the year
  • 1 complimentary quarter page company/organization ad in Southern Exposure directory

SEPC COMMITTEES

APH (Arnold Palmer Hospital)

This committee works with Arnold Palmer Hospital to help coordinate programs and events to aid children with life-threatening diseases.

CHOA (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)

This committee works with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on programs and events to fight childhood obesity.

Education

This committee works to brainstorm and implement industry-relevant educational workshops and speakers for our events.

Foodservice Committee

This committee works on foodservice-related projects and programs to provide value-added services to the food service members.

Marketing

This committee works on marketing aspects for all SEPC events.

PAYH (Paul Anderson Youth Home)

This committee works with Paul Anderson Youth Home to coordinate efforts with the Goodness Garden.

SEPC COMMITTEES

RAMP (Rockin‘ Appalachian Mom Project)

This committee works with Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project to coordinate food deliveries to Kentucky to help feed the hungry.

Retail Committee

This committee works on retail-related projects and programs to provide value-added services to retail membership.

Scholarship

This committee works on awarding Member Scholarship Funds.

SoSA (Society of Saint Andrew)

This committee works with the Society of St. Andrew to help glean our food show and other projects to help feed the hungry.

Sponsorship

This committee works to offer sponsorship opportunities to all of our members.

STARS (Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship)

This committee is works to accomidate the STARS students and STARS scholarship.

Terry L. Vorhees Vision Scholarship

This committee works on the selection of the Vorhees Vision Scholarship.

SEPC INFORMATION

SEPC Executive Board

Faye Westfall
Chairman of the Board
DiMare Fresh

Steve Pinkston
Vice Chairman
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Brandon Parker
Secretary 
Shuman Produce

Harold Paivarinta
Treasurer 
Red Sun Farms

SEPC Board of Directors

Barb Anderson
Director, DNE World Fruit (Division of Wonderful Citrus)

Jon Schwalls 
Director, Southern Valley Produce Company

Tim Graas
Director, AWG

Stephanie Hilton
Director, Tom Lange Family of Companies

SEPC INFORMATION

SEPC Board of Directors (cont.)

Amanda Keefer
Director, Produce for Kids

Daniel Klausner
Director, Apio, Inc.

Dave Lessard
Director, Ahold

Raina Nelson
Director, Renaissance Food Group

Mike Roberts
Director of Produce Operations, Harp's Food Stores

Blair Greenhill
Director of Purchasing, Nickey Gregory Company

Frank Swanson
Director, US Foods

Boyd West
Director, Mitchell Grocery

John Williams
Director, LG Herndon Jr. Farms 

SEPC INFORMATION

SEPC Board of Governors

Garry Bergstrom
Publix Super Markets (Retired)

Bobby Creel
L&M Companies

Mark Daniels
General Produce

Al Finch
Florida Classic Growers

Andrew Scott
Nickey Gregory Company

John Shuman
Shuman Produce

Gordon Hochberg
The Produce News

SEPC INFORMATION

SEPC TEAM

David Sherrod, President and CEO
Jennifer Pierce: Accounting
Molly Edenfield: Member Relations
Anna Burch: Marketing
John Avola: Digital Marketing

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