4. United Fresh, PMA merger falls through

12/28/2012 12:21:00 PM
Greg Johnson

... Here is the scenario. Start the auction clock at $100,000 annual salary for a three-year contract and give Stenzel and Silbermann a buzzer. With every 10 seconds that passes, the salary for the chief executive officer and president would increase by $10,000. The first man to hit the buzzer would be given the job. Perhaps the buzzer would ring immediately or linger unrung until $600,000. In either case, the group would have itself one leader.

At United’s annual convention in Dallas, the produce industry awaited a solution to the issue but would be told to keep waiting.

May 7
PMA, United Fresh continue merger talks
By Tom Karst, National Editor

DALLAS — Perhaps closer to a union than they have ever been, significant hurdles remain in merger talks between the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association.

Steffanie Smith, immediate past chairwoman of Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh and chief executive officer of River Point Farms LLC, Hermiston, Ore., and Mike O’Brien, past chairman of the Newark, Del.-based PMA and vice president of produce for St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc., lead a task force for the merger discussions.

“No final decisions have been made, and published reports implying otherwise are incorrect,” Smith and O’Brien said in a statement May 2.

Frustration with the lack of progress began emerging both within the two associations and the produce industry as summer began.

June 11
United Fresh, PMA leave industry dangling
Tom Karst, National Editor

Three words said it all — and nothing.

With the e-mail message “talks are continuing,” Mike O’Brien, immediate past Produce Marketing Association chairman and vice president of produce and floral for Schnuck Markets Inc., St. Louis, summed up the status of merger discussions between United Fresh Produce Association and PMA.

Finally, the news emerged that the two associations reached a stalemate, and the talks were over. There would be no merger. United’s chairman David Krause was open with The Packer about the issues that doomed the merger while his counterparts at PMA, Mike O’Brien and Rich Dachman were more circumspect.

July 23
Merger derails on leadership, vision differences
By Tom Karst, National Editor

Failing to agree when it counted, the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association saw 18 months of work go for naught when the two groups ended merger negotiations July 13.



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