Growing up working a 1200 acre family farm in British Columbia, Canada, Harold Paivarinta was born into the produce industry. Following his farming days, Harold went on to work in the retail supermarket industry while attending college. His first job was as a produce clerk. Harold rose through the ranks quickly as he was promoted to produce manager, moving on to producer merchandiser and eventually a buyer position at a western Canadian supermarket chain. It was there where Harold’s career took a different direction, transitioning from the buy side to the sell side of the industry.
For the past 21 years, his energy and efforts have been dedicated to the sales and marketing of greenhouse produce where he leads currently leads the sales team at Red Sun Farms. For half of those 21 years, Harold was proud to call Atlanta home.
“My time in Atlanta was awesome,” says Harold. “Folks welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like part of the family. The SEPC is part of my extended family and those friendships continue to grow from my first SEPC event in 2002 through today. I’m blessed to serve on the SEPC Executive Board and proud of the work we do for our members and our communities.”
Raina Nelson grew up surrounded by agricultural in rural Central Florida as a daughter of a 2nd generation citrus farmer. At an early age, she was drawn to the diverse efforts, work ethic and passion demonstrated by her family to run a successful operation. This heritage afforded an early appreciation for values that remain deeply rooted in her today.
She obtained a B.S. in food science and human nutrition and an M.S. in food science from the University of Florida College of Agricultural & Life Sciences. She has been a professional in the fresh produce industry for 15 years in the areas of food safety and quality systems, new product development, imports management, sales and most recently total supply chain management for Renaissance Food Group.
She is passionate about the fresh produce industry and passing on the legacy to rising talent. She is grateful for her professional network, loves her family and enjoys cycling, being outdoors, short-distance triathlons, and fresh fruits and vegetables, of course!
Tim’s career started at the age of 16 on the retail side of the grocery industry. After spending 23 years at retail, he moved to the procurement side in 2005 where he has been with Associated Wholesale Grocers ever since. Starting as a Produce Specialist, he has progressed to his current position as Executive Director of Produce Field Procurement, overseeing the produce procurement for 8 divisions and 3,800+ member retailers.
His passion is serving his customers with the best quality produce at the best price. He enjoys the daily challenges and opportunities and friendships the produce industry brings!
Mike Roberts, 49 years old, has been in the produce industry for 30 years. He started in 1989 at a Food 4 Less Store in North Little Rock, AR as a part-time employee to get through college. He enjoyed the atmosphere and the people so much that he decided to make a career out of it.
He has held many positions in the produce department from clerk to merchandiser, and now is the Director of Produce Operations for Harps Food Stores, Inc, where he has been employed for 25 years.
Roberts graduated from the 2012 STEP-UPP program. He is happily married to his wife, Courtney Roberts.
David Sherrod is the President and CEO of the Southeast Produce Council. He was member #17 when the council was established in 1999. His passion for the produce industry began at age 16 when he started working for Piggly Wiggly Southern. Starting out as a produce clerk, he later became a produce buyer at the chain’s headquarters in Vidalia, Georgia.
After the acquisition of Piggly Wiggly Southern by Bruno’s Inc., he and his wife Sarah transferred to Birmingham, Alabama where he continued his career as Produce Category Manager. In 1995, he accepted the position of Merchandising Manager with Del Monte Fresh Produce. In 1997, David broadened his produce career by accepting the position of Regional Sales Manager with River Ranch Fresh Foods. In 1999, he began a 15-year long stint with Apio, Inc. as the Southeast Regional Business Manager. David took the helm of the SEPC in July 2014.
David has been married to his wife Sarah since 1992. They have two sons, Henry and Hudson, and a daughter, Hannah. He considers his family to be his pride and joy. There’s never a dull moment in the Sherrod household!
Blair Greenhill started his produce career with CH Robinson in Atlanta in 2002 after graduating from Clemson University with a bachelor’s in economics. He rose through the ranks at CHR, taking over as Produce Site Manager there in 2006, and led the Atlanta Produce group of CHR/Robinson Fresh until joining Nickey Gregory Company as Director of Purchasing in 2014.
Named Produce Business Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2015, Blair serves on the Southeast Produce Council Board of Directors, chairs the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Attendance Committees, and is the Clemson liaison on the STARS Committee.
Blair and wife Brenda have 3 kids—Lauren, William, and Elisabeth. He enjoys Clemson sports, movies, and coaching his son’s baseball team.
Jon Schwalls grew up in Cool Springs, a rural agricultural community in southwest Georgia. His lifelong involvement with agriculture began at a young age as he spent afternoons and summers working on his grandparents’ farm.
He began his produce career with Southern Valley in 1994. During that time, he has assumed various roles in different operational aspects of the company in Georgia, Tennessee, and Yucatán, Mexico. He continues to take a hands-on approach to leadership, and currently serves as the Executive Officer of Southern Valley.
Jon is passionate about his faith, family, and liberty. Jon still resides on a farm in Cool Springs along with his lovely wife Amber and two adorable daughters, Carter and Ellie.
After graduating from the University of Florida with degrees in business management as well as agriculture, Don started his career in south Florida working for various tropical fruit grower/packer/shippers. After a few years he had the opportunity to join Del Monte Fresh Produce as a melon sales manager overseeing Southeast-based accounts. He served in this capacity for 5 years, until the opportunity arose for him to join Walmart and learn the other side of the produce business. Over the past 9 years, he has served in various produce sourcing roles and is currently the Sr. Buying Manager for the tomato category.
Don and his wife Lindsay have been married 16 years and have 3 children—Wesley, Tyler, and Ella. They currently reside in Bentonville, AR.
Duke Lane III, a 5th generation Georgia peach enthusiast, has been carrying on the family tradition full time for 20 years now. He is the Sales Director at Lane Southern Orchards and a partner in Genuine Georgia, a marketing company with interests in both peaches and pecans. Duke graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in ag business.
He serves on the BOD of the SEPC, chairs the Society of St. Andrews SEPC committee, and was a graduate of the 2014 United Fresh Leadership class.
Sloan grew up in a small farming community in Southeast Georgia where he has lived all his life. He worked in his family business as a child. He attended Georgia Southern University, where he obtained a degree in biology. After graduation he started working seasonally with Bland Farms in 1996. He found he really enjoyed the small family farm environment and began working full time in 1999. Over the years he has held numerous positions within the company. Sloan has been in sales since the early 2000’s.
Sloan has always believed in the 3 F’s in life (faith, family, and friends); this is what drew him to both Bland Farms and the SEPC. Sloan serves on numerous SEPC committees and is the liaison for the UGA STARS students. Like many others, he has really found a lot of joy working with the STARS students over the past few years. He sees the real value the SEPC offers to all in produce and looks forward to what the future holds with the SEPC and the produce industry.
Part of Yerecic Label’s third generation, Kristin Yerecic Scott joined the family business in 2014 as a marketing assistant. During her time at Yerecic Label, Kristin has refreshed the Yerecic Label brand, developed the company’s Sales Toolkit Center and launched an eCommerce site. This growth and success propelled her into her current position as Marketing Director and a Yerecic Label Board of Officers member. As a pressure sensitive label supplier serving the fresh produce industry, Kristin helps Yerecic Label focus on consumer trends, packaging insights and market research to intimately understand retail, grower/shipper and shopper needs.
Kristin has been recognized as one of The Packer’s 2017 Women in Produce and proudly serves on the Education and Marketing SEPC committees. Kristin is also the marketing co-chair for the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute, where she assisted with the association’s brand refresh. Kristin graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. in strategic communications, and minors in both economics & business.
Kristin and her husband Matt live in Pittsburgh, PA and are enjoying their time as newlyweds!
Gary Baker is the Sr. Director of Fresh at Merchants Distributors, LLC. In this role, Gary oversees the operations of Meat, Produce, and Deli/Bakery.
Gary has worked at other retail companies in his history including Kmart, Winn-Dixie, and Food Lion and has distinguished himself at each one of these companies as someone with high work ethics and dedication to the field.
Gary started with MDI as a Produce Buyer in 2004. He then served as the Produce Catogory Manager and most recently has served as Produce Director.
Gary is an innovative thinker and holds degrees in business administration and web technology design. Gary’s experience, retail background, customer relationships, industry knowledge and networking has helped MDI to have continued success.
He is also an avid Charlotte Panther fan and enjoys supporting the team.
A 33-year veteran of grocery retail, Chris Dove serves as Food Lion’s Vice President of Produce Category, Merchandising & Pricing. In this capacity, he is responsible for leading produce category, merchandising and pricing for the brand and is committed to delivering the Food Lion promise through leadership of a high-performing team delivering consistently fresh produce to customers.
Prior to his current position, Dove served in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility, including Director of Produce Category, Merchandising & Pricing for Food Lion; Director of Produce Category for Delhaize America; Director of Associate Relations for Bottom Dollar Food; Director of Market Renewal & Prototype Development, as well as 17 years in retail operations.
Dove has served on the board of directors for Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Charlotte, NC.
Dove and his wife Melissa and three children, Nathan, Brittany, and Garrett make their home in Iron Stations, NC. He and his family enjoy boating and spending time at the beach.
Sabrina has been an active supporter of the SEPC for over 10 years. For the past three years, she has been a part of the Highline Mushrooms’ sales team, the largest organic grower of mushrooms in the world. Prior to being a “fun-gal” (in mushrooms), Sabrina worked in sales, marketing and PR in the greenhouse vegetable category.
Before joining the produce industry over a decade ago, she held a variety of marketing, public relations and sales leadership roles in both luxury accommodation sector and luxury food beverage goods industry.
Through his 9 years in the produce business, Clark Roper has seen many sides of the industry. Beginning as a broker, he has since worked as a buyer, an external advisor, and through several organizations has served as a mentor to the next generation of produce professionals. He enjoys solving complex problems and navigating the ever-changing environment of produce. Clark is currently an Internal Consultant for Piggly Wiggly, managing projects for the company in a number of areas, including IT, operations, marketing and communications.
As he continues his education by pursuing his MBA, Clark remains actively involved with the produce industry, serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the SEPC, as the Co-Chair of the SEPC STARS Committee and as a mentor for Auburn University’s Ag Alumni Mentorship program.
Clark graduated from Auburn University specializing in agricultural economics, and supply chain management and will graduate from The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program in December 2021. He and his wife, Susan Ann, live in Birmingham, Ala., with their daughter, Charlotte, and are expecting their second child in May. He enjoys traveling, real estate investing, and learning new things.
Stanley Trout is a produce industry veteran with over 25 years of experience managing some of the nation’s largest retail and foodservice accounts. Stanley joined the IPC in 2015 and covers the Southeast region. His career highlights include serving two terms on the Southeast Produce Council Board of Directors, being named to Produce Magazine’s “40 under 40,” and graduating from the United Fresh Leadership Program.
Stanley enjoys scouring the Southeast for great BBQ, helping coach his boys’ football and baseball teams, and working on his family’s farm in Summit, MS. Stanley holds an agribusiness degree from Middle Tennessee State and is a Desert Storm veteran.
Jeff is the Corporate Produce Director at Performance Food Group. Jeff works with the Produce Procurement and Marketing teams at 35 PFG Distribution Centers across the US. In this role Jeff leads the Produce Teams by having training seminars, leadership training and one on one decision making.
Jeff has worked with several reputable Food Service and Retail organizations over the last 30 years such as Taylor Farms, US Foods, Harris Teeter and others. During Jeff's tenure at these different companies he lead many of his staff to successful management careers as he lead them by example. Success in Integrity, Training, Sales Growth, GP Growth and most importantly exemplary Customer Service.
Jeff is an avid tournament bass fisherman. He also loves spending time with his family and especially his 3 granddaughters. Jeff is a member of the praise team at his local church in NC.
Mark was drawn into the sweet onion business at an early age. He worked on the family farm alongside his father and two brothers, where they primarily grew Vidalia® sweet onions.
Mark graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1994 and began his career as a crop consultant. In the fall of 2004, Mark rejoined Shuman Farms and is now the Director of Operations.
Mark is passionate about his Faith and his community. He has served as Chairman of the Administrative Board and as Lay Leader of his home church. There, in 2010, he organized The CARE Team, a community outreach program. Mark now serves as the chair of the Paul Anderson Youth Home Committee.
Mark and his wife, Victoria, have been married for 22 years and have two sons, Chap and Mason. Mark enjoys Georgia football and is an outdoor enthusiast.