David Sherrod Discusses What to Expect at 2015's Southern Exposure Conference & Expo
- by Jordan Okumura
ORLANDO, FL - It’s not about being the biggest, it’s about putting a quality show together. That’s what David Sherrod, Executive Director of the Southeast Produce Council, tells me, as we chat on separate sides of the U.S. about the upcoming event and the growth of the Southern Exposure Conference & Expo.
Scheduled for February 26 – 28, the 2015 show is shaping up to be its best event yet with more than 400 retail and foodservice attendees registered - a 20% increase over last year. In addition, there are well over 1900 attendees also registered with 3 weeks still to go.
“We could very well top 2000 attendees this year,” David notes. It has been an exciting time for SEPC as the council continues to measure its year-over-year growth while working on its strategic plans for the next 3-5 years.
“The growth that we have seen this year as well as the popularity of the event, is all testament to the hard work and passion that Terry Vorhees brought to this group,” David tells me. “What Terry and the board accomplished in the past 15 years is a wonder in itself and a reflection of our organization.”
David Sherrod was officially named Executive Director during the SEPC fall conference, assuming the role after the passing of Terry Vorhees, the council’s Co-Founder and its first Executive Director.
David came to SEPC from Apio, where he spent 15 years as the company’s Southeast Regional Business Manager, and before that, David was with Del Monte Fresh.
“I really got my bearings in fresh produce while working on the retail side. I came up through the ranks as Piggly Wiggly Southern’s Produce Buyer as well as their Category Manager. I also learned a lot during my time with Bruno's Supermarkets in Birmingham, Alabama,” he notes.
While the booth quota remains the same as last year at 267, there is no cap on the amount of action in store. This year’s theme is a throw back to the 50’s and 60’s with “A Whole Lotta Produce Going On.” David has promised a Grease-style production, with a diner, drive-in and a country fair type of feel. Scott Vorhees, Terry’s son, has been the in-house VJ for several years and is helping to shape the Friday Night Gala again this year.
SEPC will also be honoring Terry Vorhees at 2015 Southern Exposure with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Terry’s family during the Keynote Luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 28.
Also, to highlight one of SEPC’s new initiatives is the Southern Roots luncheon on the 26th, with Teri Miller, Category Manager at Food Lion and 1st VP for SEPC as well as Chairwoman of the Southern Roots program, along with a special guest speaker invited to the podium - Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, Picabo Street.
Southern Roots is SEPC’s new leadership program for women in produce, bringing industry individuals together for a unique opportunity in fresh produce. The program is designed to make meaningful connections among our industry’s women with the hopes of drawing up-and-comers, industry veterans and pioneers alike.
A new relaxation room with quick foot and back massages will also help attendees get a few minutes of R&R. And let’s not forget the closing reception to look forward to. Dubbed Gator Moon Lounge, the evening will come complete with dueling pianos, couch seating, and a relaxing atmosphere… a great way for everyone to say ‘so long until the next show’ to industry friends.
For those that have heard the rumors… they are true! This is the last year the event will be held in Orlando, FL at the Caribe Royale. 2016 will host a Southern Exposure in Hollywood Beach, just south of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, at The Diplomat by Curio.
“It is time for a change of scenery. The Caribe Royale’s board and staff have been wonderful to us and our guests over the years and we can’t thank them enough,” David says.
Count down to Southern Exposure is on. See you all there!... possibly in the relaxation room.