The Real Members Of The Year – Our Readers

After 86 years, the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association decided to unveil a Member of the Year award. The Award, which was presented at United’s convention in San Antonio, was given to PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine as well as to this author’s family.

The presentation was made by Allen Vangelos, president of Calavo Growers of California and chairman of the 1990 convention.

Winning an award is always a pleasant experience, but being recognized by the UFFVA is especially meaningful to someone such as I, someone who grew up in the produce industry.

After all, as I sit at my computer writing this article, I can remember the days my parents flew off to so many United conventions during my youth. And I wonder if they ever thought as they walked through the exhibit hall or sat in one of the sessions that one day, on the office wall of their eldest son, would hang a plaque awarded by that very same association.

I guess to others an award such as this might not mean that much. Perhaps big conglomerates that are involved in multiple businesses would not appreciate something like this award. But to PRODUCE BUSINESS, it means more than most could imagine because it serves to reinforce our authority in the field. To be honored by such a venerable association as United is to speak well of the service we provide the industry.

But truth be told, United honored the wrong party because everything we do at PRODUCE BUSINESS, every article we write, every photo we publish, is made possible only by the support of industry members.

There was a time, not that long ago when many said that the produce industry was too “unsophisticated” to support a magazine such as PRODUCE BUSINESS. Many said that high-quality editorial such as we deliver would never be justified. Some said our high-quality paper and reproduction would not be sustained by the trade.

But this mighty industry of ours has shown the skeptics wrong. With each issue of PRODUCE BUSINESS, we have etched the truth about our industry into a permanent record. The enthusiasm of its people, the passion of our trade, the progress this industry has made.

Imagine, if you will, a man who takes it upon himself to write a magazine, and he writes it up and stores it in his desk never to be seen by anyone but himself. Did this man really write a magazine? I think not.

For a magazine is not just paper and ink. It is communication, the almost electric circulation of ideas from person to person. Everything we do at PRODUCE BUSINESS, every contribution we make, is made because our readers, who make up this industry, take words off our pages and turn them into actions.

We work very hard at PRODUCE BUSINESS to make this magazine so valuable that nobody in the produce industry can afford to be without it. But the great and noble people of this industry are the ones who lift the produce from the soil, package it, market it, retail it, and bring it to the people. And our only function is to help them do it a little bit better, a little bit easier, and maybe, make them a bit prouder of the important work they do.

So if the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association selects us to be honored, then I suppose it counts as one more feather in our cap, one more indication that the work we do is truly serving the produce trade.

So, we will keep this award in our office to stand not as a testimony to our achievements in the past, but rather to stand as a reminder of the great obligations we bear as we face the future.

We shall hold this award in trust for the people of the produce industry, and its constant viewing shall serve to remind us of who we serve. For as long as this plaque hangs on our wall, we shall strive to be worthy of this honor.

And as my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before that always ran their produce companies with the goal of making their name a worthy legacy to pass on to their children, I pledge to do the same.

So, 86 years from now, at the 172nd annual convention of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, the then president can shake hands with my great-grandson and hand a plaque for another 86 years of service.