Contact: Marti Pupillo
(La Quinta, Calif. – January 19, 2012) The International Dairy Foods Association has presented 2012 Soaring Eagle Awards to two outgoing officers: Gary Vanic, president and CEO of Great Lakes Cheese Co., Inc., and Dave Fuhrmann, president and CEO of Foremost Farms USA. The awards were presented this week at a special ceremony during IDFA’s 2012 Dairy Forum at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, Calif.
The Soaring Eagle award recognizes the extraordinary service of leaders in the dairy industry and those who have provided exemplary leadership to IDFA, the International Ice Cream Association, the Milk Industry Foundation and the National Cheese Institute.
Gary Vanic – 2012 Soaring Eagle Award Winner
Vanic took over the reins at Great Lakes Cheese Co. in Hiram, Ohio, in 2000 and became increasingly active in NCI and IDFA, holding several leadership positions just a few years later. He served as IDFA chairman from 2009 to 2011 and IDFA vice chairman from 2008 to 2009. He also served as NCI chairman from 2008 to 2009, NCI vice chairman from 2006 to 2008 and NCI treasurer from 2004 to 2006.
Perhaps one of his most important contributions came during his years at the helm of IDFA, when the entire dairy industry was reeling from turbulent economic times.
"I saw Gary go out of his way to gather information from the industry in total to try to get a good picture of the issues we needed to deal with to solve some of the complex pricing issues that are out there today," said Mike Nosewicz, IDFA chairman and vice president, Dairy East, The Kroger Co.
“Having Gary Vanic as chairman for the past two years has been a real treat for me," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "He's been a terrific mentor, he's solid as a rock, he's a good sounding board and he's respected by everybody.”
Dave Fuhrmann – 2012 Soaring Eagle Award Winner
Fuhrmann served as NCI chairman from 2009 to 2011, vice chairman from 2008 to 2009 and secretary from 2006 to 2008. He also served as IDFA treasurer from 2009 to 2010.
Raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm, Fuhrmann is a 37-year veteran of the dairy industry. In 2001, he became the second president of Foremost Farms USA, a cooperative headquartered in Baraboo, Wis., and owned by 2,100 dairy farmers in the Upper Midwest.
"In the dairy industry, there's a diverse mix of folks, and Dave is one of the rare individuals who's able to mix the co-operative world with the proprietary world," said Jon Davis, NCI chairman and CEO of Davisco Foods International, Inc. "Watching Dave interact in meetings and watching him lead with his intellect and experience makes you want to get more involved and follow his lead."
Commending Fuhrmann on his NCI leadership, especially during the past two years, Tipton said, "You've done a terrific job of leading us through all those federal order issues and other dairy policy issues. The industry owes you a great debt."
Videos honoring Vanic and Fuhrmann for their years of service are available at IDFA's YouTube channel.
Previous recipients of the IDFA Soaring Eagle Award include Robert Allen, Tom Angott, Tom Badciong, Rick Beaman, C.O. "Tex" Beshears, Miriam Erickson Brown, George Cornell, Howard M. Dean, Jim Erickson, Miles Ezell, Lou Gentine, Jim Green, Brian Haugh, Betsy Holden, Larry Jensen, John Jeter, John Kinnett, Jr., Ed Kruse, Paul Kruse, Bill Oldenburg, Delton Parks, Arthur Pappathanasi, Tom Perry, Mike Reidy, Ronald Rice, David Rufenacht, Don Storhoff, Fay Wells and Gary Wells.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.