A Look To The Future In Business And Life

Produce Business was launched at the PMA convention in San Francisco in 1985. So you hold our 26th-anniversary issue in your hands. This year, as with each year since that long-ago launch, we set aside one page to report to you, our readers, on what we are doing and to say thank you for all your support. This is that page.

We have achieved much in the year that has passed. Produce Business has continued to grow as has its sister online publication, Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit. Our newest online addition, PerishableNews.com, is now regularly the first in bringing news to tens of thousands of industry members and provides a portal for those same executives to keep current on other perishable categories.

Most notably, last year, shortly after the PMA convention, we launched The New York Produce Show and Conference with our friends at the Eastern Produce Council. It was a wildly successful event featuring a trade show, conference, chef demos, spouse program, university interchange program, media program and a “consumer influencer” outreach effort. We are coming up on the 2nd edition of the event to be held in Manhattan, Nov 7-9, 2011, and we are thrilled to report that with all the economic problems in the world today, the event will have grown by 50 percent over last year. That is the industry saying it values what we have worked so hard to create, and we are so very grateful for that vote of confidence.

More than financials, we are appreciative of the opportunity to deepen our interaction with, and our contribution to, the trade. The workshops, the seminars, the speakers, the networking — none of that can be duplicated elsewhere. That is why we urge industry executives to attend PMA, United, CPMA, WGA, NEPC, SEPC, FPFC, foreign events and, yes, to make time to be in New York for The New York Produce Show and Conference.

For all this accomplishment, this has also been a year of enormous challenge. Not long after PMA and The New York Show last year, my father, Michael Prevor, was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. It is hard to express what a devastating blow it was to learn such a thing. The five-year survival rate is only 6 percent, and most people die within a year. The doctors gave my father three months without treatment, six to nine with. We are now just past the nine-month mark.

As those who have been touched by cancer soon realize, life extension is itself often problematic. Between cancer itself, the chemotherapy treatment and treatment for dozens of ailments that come along with it — everything from infections to blood clots — one starts to question whether one wants to live longer.

It is important for the family to listen carefully to the ill family member in these circumstances.

I’m a dutiful son, but not a doctor, much less an oncologist or medical researcher. I knew I didn’t have the competence to cure my father’s cancer. In the course of studying the matter, though, I learned that it was common for therapies to take 17 years to get into mainstream use. When I was told that, I understood my mission clearly. I could use my skills as an analyst, researcher, and writer to identify what therapies are out there now that may be the winners and come into common use by 2028. Then I could find the right people and persuade them to help my father. In other words, I would fight to get for my father the medical care of 2028, today.

After a worldwide search, I identified an immunotherapy that had been tried on some chronic leukemia patients as being the most likely to succeed and become the standard of care. The therapy, altered for pancreatic cancer, called for the use of a gene therapy to alter T-Cells to attack mesothelin, which pancreatic and ovarian tumors typically overexpress. To accelerate the application of this therapy to solid tumors in the hope of benefiting my father and many others who suffer from such cancers, we established the Prevor Family Fund For Immunotherapy Cancer Research at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

My family made an initial donation of one million dollars to jumpstart the research. We hope others will go to the website we’ve set up — www.theprevorfamilyfund.org — and contribute to the furtherance of this work.

My father toiled all his professional life in the produce trade as an importer, exporter, and wholesaler. Growing up on the Hunts Point Market in a family business, I know that the very idea of clean separation between home and work is not a realistic understanding of business and the world.

I cannot be certain if this therapy will help my father or anyone else. But it is my best judgment that it is the future. Ever since I sat down to write my “Special Note” for that launch issue 26 years ago, I have always tried to look to the future. I can only hope that the practice has paid off.