The week of the 2013 Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention will be a big one for outgoing chairman Jim DiMenna.
On April 16, he’ll be in Toronto to receive an award on behalf of his greenhouse company, Kingsville, Ontario-based JemD Farms, selected as one of the 50 best-managed companies in Canada for 2012.
The following night, he’ll be king at a real castle, welcoming delegates from around the world to the 88th annual CPMA convention and trade show.
The prestigious Top 50 award, sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post, Queen’s School of Business and MacKay CEO Forums, recognizes Canadian companies that have implemented world-class business practices and created value in innovative ways.
“This award speaks volumes about the talent and commitment of our team,” DiMenna said.
The fact that JemD is North America’s first Canadian- and Mexican-owned greenhouse company, selling produce year-round under the Golden Sun and Red Sun labels, put the CPMA chairman on the front lines of one of the year’s toughest issues — a new anti-dumping suspension agreement with Mexico that sets higher floor prices for greenhouse tomatoes.
“It’s got everybody’s attention, and we’re looking for some good results and positive opportunities for us as an importer to the U.S. as well as for U.S. tomato producers,” he said.
“I’d really like to see it evolve so we can live and work in harmony in the coming years.”
JemD has increased its acreage in Canada and Mexico in the past year, he said, and it’s looking at building a greenhouse operation in the U.S. that would include organic tomatoes, a first for the company.
DiMenna has also overseen changes at the CPMA head office in Toronto as the association implements a new style of governance. President Ron Lemaire puts his stamp on the organization after taking over from longtime president Danny Dempster.
“How our boards are elected and what boards get involved with are much more transparent now,” DiMenna said.
“There are so many great opportunities for CPMA members who want to get involved to be on committees, and now it’s clear to everybody how it works.”
Membership has increased in the past year, and the association is financially stronger, he said.
“We’re on the right side of all the numbers.”
Travelling across the country and into the U.S. in the past year has also helped the outdoing chairman polish his speech-making skills.
“A year ago I was anxious about it, but one thing CPMA and being chair has taught me in the last year is that it’s not the end of the world to get up and say a few words,” he said.