STEP-UPP provides an enriched learning experience for high potential retail and food service 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 SEPC.

Program Goals

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.

Personal Leadership & Networking

The success of all good leaders depends on personal development and relationship building. Education may include leadership styles, managing for performance, and negotiation strategy. Each program segment will also include opportunities to meet and interact with other SEPC industry members and make important networking connections.

Field Experience

Application is an important part of all education. The final emphasis on learning will be participation in field and plant tours along with a short course in produce inspection. The emphasis in this area will be to gain an understanding of how to partner with growers more effectively to build mutually beneficial relationships.

STEP-UPP Class of 2018 Schedule

Date TBD

  • Workshop Details TBD

Date TBD

  • Workshop Details TBD

September 27th – September 29th

  • Class of 2018 Graduation

STEP-UPP Graduate Testimonials

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been a member with STEP-UPP. I gained invaluable experience about the industry first hand by touring farms, talking to suppliers, and networking with industry leaders and experts. Years later, I still use what I learned to make better buying decisions for my company.”

– Leslie Gallegos, Fresh Point Tampa

STEP-UPP Class of 2017


Wesley Doub

Lowes/Alex Lee Inc


Shannon Mauldin

Merchants Distributors Inc


Kyle Soucy

United Supermarkets


Brent Easley

Ahold/Del Haize


Megha Patel

Southeastern Grocers


Price Mabry

Associated Wholesale Grocers


Joshua Doughty

Rouses Supermarkets


Alan Smith

Harps Food Stores


Brian Benton

Save A Lot

Mishelle Ceccon

US Foods


Heidi Raymond

Military Produce Group


Robert Hardin

K-Vat Stores