Hy-Vee’s Mike Orf receives Produce Retailer of the Year award

Hy-Vee’s Mike Orf receives Produce Retailer of the Year award

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Produce Retailer magazine, a sister publication of The Packer, presented Hy-Vee group vice president of produce purchasing Mike Orf with the Produce Retailer of the Year award at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit on Oct. 19.

“I’m incredibly humbled and grateful,” Orf said. “It’s truly an honor. I’ve poured my heart into this industry for a long, long time, and it’s really surreal ... It’s very much appreciated.”

Ashley Nickle, editor of Produce Retailer and retail editor of The Packer, presented Orf with the award.

Produce Retailer recognized Orf for his leadership over produce at Hy-Vee, which views the produce department as a differentiator and also works to deliver on consumer trends including local, organic, convenience, and an overall interest in health and wellness.

To encourage creativity in the produce departments at Hy-Vee’s 240-plus stores, the company runs internal displays contests and rewards the winners with trips to Fresh Summit or other major industry events. Stores also get a considerable amount of autonomy to tailor their produce offerings to their specific shoppers.

Produce Retailer featured Orf on the cover of its October issue.

In that article, executive vice president of perishables Nate Stewart described some of the elements that make Orf great at his work.

“Mike has an uncanny ability to be able to see a department for what it could be, to be able to lay out a department really with his eyes, and then a really good ability to explain it to people,” Stewart said. “Sometimes you’ll see people that have one or the other, but rarely do you see people that have both.

“He’s a gifted merchant, but he’s also a gifted teacher as far as his ability to explain it in a way that almost anybody can understand,” Stewart said.

Stewart first worked with Orf in 2001 while training to be a store manager. He described Orf as an artist with produce.

“He’s always been big and bold,” Stewart said. “You’d never know it by meeting him, but then you put him in an aisle and he just comes to life.”

For the full profile of Orf, check out ProduceRetailer.com.