MONTEREY, Calif. — Rich Dachman, vice president of produce for Sysco Inc., is this year’s Foodservice Achievement Award recipient, given by The Packer to recognize significant contribution to produce’s role in the foodservice industry.

Sysco V.P. wins The Packer's Foodservice Achievement Award

Dachman accepted the award from The Packer editor Greg Johnson at the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference and Exposition Aug. 1. As he walked the show floor later that afternoon, he said he was impressed by the number of people who congratulated him and thanked him for his work.

“We work in our industry really hard, but it’s just not something I expected,” Dachman said Aug. 4, after returning to his Houston office. “I think it has a lot to do with what my peers think of me, and that means more to me than anything, being recognized by your peers.”

In business, he’s described as fair, a great partner, willing to educate his customers’ staffs, Johnson said during the award presentation.

“Within his organization, one co-worker said our honoree transformed his company from more than 100 small distributors to one large buying group within the last three years,” Johnson said.

Dachman is vice chairman of the PMA board of directors and was nominated recently as chairman elect, a role he’s set to take at the association’s Fresh Summit convention in October. With PMA, he also recently took the reins of the Foodservice 2020 steering committee and is leading discussions on how to further that initiative.

Foodservice 2020 seeks to double the use of produce at restaurants in 10 years.

“He is so passionate about increasing the use of fresh produce in foodservice, and that’s really what directs everything he does,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA president and chief executive officer. “It’s that fire in his belly that makes him unique as a distributor.”

Silbermann touted Dachman’s involvement with PMA during his opening address July 31.

“It’s that management philosophy so many of us follow where if you find someone who’s doing a really great job, you give them more to do,” he said.

Dachman got his start in produce working for his father’s produce distribution company, Perry Produce Co., Denver. After his father sold the company in 1979, Dachman went into business for himself, while his father started another produce company as part of a broadliner called Westman Commission Co.

“He started a business inside a broadline company, as a department of a broadline company, which in those days was kind of new,” Dachman said. “He asked me to come and help him, so I did, and then Kraft came and bought that.”

Dachman worked for Kraft Foods Inc. after the acquisition, transitioning to the corporate office in 1987 as national director of produce. He then went to FreshPoint Inc. in the early 1990s, and ran offices in Salinas, Calif., Denver and Atlanta before the company was acquired by Sysco in 2000.

Sysco took Dachman straight to its Houston corporate office where he worked as senior vice president of FreshPoint until 2007, when he was promoted to vice president of produce for Sysco.

“I’ve lived in every time zone,” Dachman said. “My wife is amazing to follow me around with the family and everything.”

Dachman and his wife have four sons.

“I’m still kind of at a loss for words, which is unusual for me,” Dachman said about his response to receiving the award. “It’s just an extraordinary honor. Like I said in my acceptance, I love this industry, it’s been really, really good for me, and it’s nice to get recognized. And I think it’s important to recognize the people I work with, which make my job easy.”

Dachman is the tenth recipient of The Packer’s Foodservice Achievement Award. David Gill, partner in Oxnard-based Gill’s Onions, received the honor in 2009.