The term “girl power” has personal and professional meaning to Tracie Levin, general manager of M. Levin & Co in Philadelphia.
Levin and her three female cousins comprise the fourth generation of the business their great-grandfather started in 1906, and Levin said she sees more women in the business as a growing trend.
“When I started here after college, I felt that people may not have taken me as seriously as they would have if I were a male in the same position.
“Women in the produce industry are strong and know that they can be as effective in leadership roles as the men who have dominated the field. Women are the up-and-coming leaders in this industry and they cannot be ignored,” Levin said.
Levin’s main tasks involve operational management and new business development, but she wears many hats.
“The more I understand about all facets of the business the better off I, and the company, will be in the long run. To have a successful company, one must really understand all functions and how they fit together,” she said.
That’s something she learned from her father. The produce industry has grown on many branches in Levin’s family tree.
“My family has been involved in this business for 105 years and they eat, sleep and breathe this work. It amazes me to know of so many multigeneration businesses in this industry,” she said.
But, as important as it has been to learn from family, in her six years with the company, Levin has also learned that the links between others in the industry are just as vital.
“I have met people from all different sectors, from other wholesalers to growers, packers and shippers, and I have learned that although we are all focusing on different areas, we all have the same issues to overcome,” she said.
John Vena Jr., president of John Vena Inc., on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, says Levin brings unique skills to her firm and to the market.
“I have known and worked with members of the Levin family for over 30 years,” Vena said.
“Tracie brings a very collaborative perspective to the management team at her firm.
“She is enthusiastic about networking, developing strong industry relationships and delivering on common goals as a way of achieving success.”
Levin views herself as a leader but knows how necessary it is to learn from others.
“Some of the best lessons one can learn in this industry are from others,” she said. “I am learning something new each day.”
She takes this advice and applies it to her own goal of becoming a leader for years to come.
“I have been involved in so many parts of the business that now I am someone who others can come to for answers. I hope to be seen as a future leader in the produce industry, not just a leader at M. Levin,” she said.