(Jan. 27, 11:19 a.m.) Southern California produce industry veterans Dennis Gertmenian and Dale Liefer received honorary memberships to the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council Jan. 24.

Longtime councilmember Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting Services, Monrovia, Calif., who nominated the pair, presented the honors to Gertmenian and Liefer for service “not only to their companies and to the council, but to the industry as a whole.”

Gertmenian, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale, Calif., for 40 years, “has spent a lifetime serving both the produce and floral industry and his greater community,” Spezzano said.

Besides the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, Gertmenian has been active with the United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers, the Produce Marketing Association, and he served as chairman of the former International Fresh-Cut Produce Association.

He founded Ready Pac’s Kids to Camp campaign, a charity that enabled nearly 4,000 inner-city children from around the U.S. to attend summer camp, Spezzano said.

Gertmenian received the Research Fellowship Award from the City of Hope cancer center, he has served on the YMCA board of directors, and he remains on the boards for the University of Virginia Semester at Sea, the Gertmenian Foundation and the California Community Foundation.

In 2000, the Irwindale Chamber of Commerce named Gertmenian “Person of the Year.”

He holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in business administration from Pepperdine University.

Liefer, who retired a year ago after 25 years as president of Westlake Produce Co. in Los Angeles, got his first exposure to the industry as president of the Agriculture Business Management Club at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he received a bachelor of science degree in agriculture business management.

After leaving Cal Poly, he worked for Vons Grocery Co., where he rose through the ranks over 13 years, Spezzano said. Next, he spent three years at Southland Produce Cos. before joining Westlake Produce.

Liefer has served on the California Agricultural Leadership Council and on PMA’s retail division board of directors and national board of directors.

He served on the Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s board of directors for 13 years and was chairman in 1993. He received the council’s Norman H. “Buz” Bolstad Award in 2006.

The following year, he earned the Spirit of Life award from the City of Hope.

The honorary memberships were presented during the council’s annual dinner dance at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, Calif.

FPFC honors Gertmenian, Liefer at annual event
Dick Spezzano (center), president of Spezzano Consulting Services, Monrovia, Calif., with Dennis Gertmenian (left), founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale, Calif., and Dale Liefer, who recently retired after serving 25 years as president of Westlake Produce Co., Los Angeles. Spezzano presented honorary memberships in the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, La Mirada, Calif., to Gertmenian and Liefer.