Grocontinental’s Head of Operations, Steve Plant (33), has won a prestigious national award staged by the Food Storage & Distribution Federation (FSDF).  The FSDF is the sole UK trade body that focuses on representing and supporting the interests of the entire food and drink logistics industry.

Steve was unveiled as the Federation’s Future Leader Award winner after joining two other shortlisted candidates, selected from a large number of entries, to present their credentials and views on the future of the temperature-controlled storage and distribution industry. Presentations were made to a panel of judges comprising members of the FSDF Board of Directors.

The purpose of the Award is to recognise talented young people within the industry who have demonstrated that they have potential to make a positive contribution to the industry and become future leaders.

In a high-standard competition, Steve was named the outright winner and as part of his award, will accompany Chris Sturman, CEO of the FSDF, to the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses/World Food Logistics Organisation convention in Florida, USA at the end of April.

Speaking about the trip, Chris Sturman said, “Attending the IARW/WFLO convention in April will give Steven the opportunity to meet not only his peers from other countries, but also network with veterans of the industry and gain a greater understanding of the temperature controlled food supply chain on a global scale.

“Previous winners have found this to be an invaluable experience and enhancement to their career prospects.”

Commenting on Steve’s success, Grocontinental’s Managing Director, Linda Grocott said, “We are all thrilled that Steve has won this national award.  It is a real achievement to be pitched against other talented young leaders and come out on top.  Not only is this great for Steve’s profile in the industry, but we also hope his success will inspire the large number of young people he works with.

“Steve joined us at a young age and his success and progression are down to sheer hard work and being open to new opportunities and challenges.”

“It is great news for the industry that the FSDF stages the award to encourage and recognise future leadership talent.”

Steve hopes that his personal career path will resonate with other youngsters setting out in the working world.  As he explains, “I originally joined the company at the age of 13 to pack yoghurts in my school holidays and, following a year of travel after taking my A-levels, I joined Grocontinental on a full-time basis.

“Over the last 14 years, I have held a number of positions in both customer service and warehouse operations before establishing myself as part of the company’s leadership team.

“I hope that my own story will demonstrate to other young people that you don’t have to get a degree to become an effective leader.  If you have a positive mind-set, work hard and take advantage of all the chances that come your way, you can really get ahead in your career.

“Today’s apprenticeships provide great opportunities for students coming out of education to follow a similar path.  Joining a scheme is something I would definitely have been keen to pursue if this had been an option to me at the time. There is also the prospect of combining working life with studying for formal qualifications which works well for many people.”

As Head of Operations, Steve oversees Grocontinental’s warehousing, planning and distribution functions which includes 62 vehicles and 120 trailers, and a warehousing capacity of 197,000 pallets.  He leads a team of over 250 people.

Steve will be formally presented with his award at the FSDF Annual Lunch and AGM to be held on 24th May at Fishmonger’s Hall, London.