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Lorri Koster Co-Chairs Mann Packing

Filial devotion is always an appealing trait and so, as Lorri Koster assumes co-chairmanship of Mann Packing Company, thus taking up the mantle of her father, Don Nucci, who passed away unexpectedly during the summer, one cannot help but have admiration for this valiant woman.

That her assumption follows the death of her older brother, Joe Nucci, who was President and CEO of the company, when he died in July of 2005, adds special poignancy to the moment.

I can give first person testimony as to Lorri’s formidable abilities. Some years ago, she was the Associate Publisher West Coast operations for the Pundit’s sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine — and she is intelligent, tenacious, innovative and entrepreneurial.

A dedicated mother and loving wife who has built her own successful publishing and communications company, she has life experience that makes her an ideal candidate to carry on the legacy of this great produce family. Imagine a company that sells “fresh vegetables made easy” to mostly working mothers actually having a working mother in the boardroom. It boggles the mind.

Lorri and I had some fun, longer ago than either of us wants to admit, when we celebrated her 30th birthday at a convention in Las Vegas. I still remember doing the Conga with Lorri as Chef Rico at the Rio hotel led us in song.

In the wee hours of the morning, we talked about ambition and dreams, and she was filled with both. Now she has one of the most important positions in our industry. But she never wanted it this way.

The industry is very competitive, but it is also very close. When Bryan Silbermann and I each gave eulogies on the occasion of Joe’s death last year, we saw a produce community put aside all differences to pay respect.

So, in these times of food safety crisis, with blame and recriminations being passed all about, the industry will surely unite to wish Lorri God Speed in her new role. It brings to mind that ancient Gaelic blessing:

May the sun shine gently on your face.
May the rain fall soft upon your fields.
May the wind be at your back.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Until we meet again.

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