AMONG THE BEST: West Point Commissary associate selected as one of nation’s top produce managers
FORT LEE, Va. – Teamwork and a talent for making impressive in-store displays of fruits and vegetables helped assure the selection of West Point Commissary’s Maria Broda as one of the top 25 retail produce managers of the year for 2021.
“I love how we can take fruits and vegetables and arrange them into something big and beautiful,” said Broda, the store’s produce manager who’s been with the U.S. Military Academy, New York, commissary for 17 years. “It takes a lot of pride and imagination, and our produce team has that and more to come up with the eye-catching displays that bring out the best qualities of the seasonal and promotional products we have to offer our customers.”
The work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In April, the United Fresh Produce Association recognized Broda as one of the best. The association stated, “For 17 years, United Fresh has honored 25 of the industry’s top retail produce managers for their commitment to fresh produce, innovative merchandising, community service and customer satisfaction. All winners will be honored during United Fresh 2021 this June.”
On May 5, the West Point Commissary staff held a brief ceremony recognizing Broda’s achievement. John Spaur, the DeCA zone manager for her store, Dole representative Lisa Overman, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rusty Lane, joined store director Carol Robertin for the event.
“It is very important to have a solid produce department and as a team we are very proud of Maria and of all her accomplishments,” Robertin said. “The produce department is the first area our customers see when they enter the store, and Maria and her team create attractive eye-popping displays that leave a lasting impression with our customers.”
Broda has been the produce manager for the past nine years, having started her commissary career as a student hire working in the store’s checkout area.
“The support of my colleagues, my superiors and especially my team, have immensely contributed to the success in my career,” she said.
She’s quick to say, “a strong committed team,” is what makes a successful produce department.
“Without them nothing could be possible,” Broda said of her team. “They are the backbone of the produce department. In my experience employee engagement promotes higher levels of productivity and increases morale, which ultimately contributes to organizational success.”
Broda also gets great personal satisfaction through her interactions with customers.
“I enjoy working one-on-one with new and regular patrons, getting to know their needs, wants and likes,” she said. “Building lasting relationships with our customers creates a strong sense of community, which sets the commissary apart from other stores. This is what makes the commissary feel like a second home for me.”
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.