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Russ Davis Wholesale hires head of food-safety quality assurance

Russ Davis Wholesale, a leading fresh produce processor and distributer, has tapped Lavonne Kucera to head its product quality initiatives. In this role, Kucera will oversee food safety and quality assurance for the company. Kucera joins RDW after most recently serving as senior director of food safety and quality assurance for Caribou Coffee Co.rdw

Kucera’s hiring further cements RDW’s demonstrated commitment to providing retail customers and produce consumers throughout the Midwest with the freshest, highest quality conventionally and organically grown and fruits and vegetables available. This includes ensuring RDW’s systemic compliance with best practices such as updated safety protocols, training, and monitoring on an ongoing basis.

Kucera will operate out of RDW’s Twin Cities processing facilities which, along with five Midwest distribution centers, comprise RDW’s current business landscape. This winter, the company will expand into the western U.S., when it opens a produce processing center in Pueblo, CO.

“From the time Russ Davis started RDW in Wadena, Minnesota 60 years ago, providing our customers with fresh, high-quality produce has always been central to what we do,” said Adam Gamble, RDW president. “As we continue to expand our presence, customer base and inventory, we are thrilled to have a leader with Lavonne’s food safety credentials and orientation support RDW’s business and strategic goals.”

Kucera, whose family operated a produce farm outside of Minneapolis during her childhood, said from a young age she learned the importance of selling only high-quality, fresh food.

“I was drawn to this opportunity because from the top down and throughout the company, there’s a shared belief that once a fruit or vegetable leaves the farm to the moment it’s distributed to customers, that product must be wholesome and safe to eat,” said Kucera. “I am excited to join RDW because this mandate is deeply engrained within and applauded by the company’s entire workforce.”

Prior to her role at Caribou Coffee, Kucera led food-safety programs at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Deli Express in Eden Prairie, MN. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where she attained a bachelor's degree in food science.