PMA changed its name three or four times to reflect the marketing changes. A turning point for PMA was 1969. The organization had begun making a strong effort to get more retailers to join, and Chan Copps was only the second retailer -- and the first since Mal Ellison in 1962 -- to be president. Starting in 1969, the president of PMA was a retailer at least every other year, sometimes two years in a row.
It was about this time, too, that we started our face-to-face interviews with the outgoing PMA president each year. My first one was with Bob Callendar in Buffalo in 1970. I think I interviewed every president from then on until 1984.
In 1971, the PMA convention returned to Chicago, and it was at this convention that I started attending PMA board meetings. The reason for attending the board meetings was to gain insight into the industry and get ideas for future stories. I began to realize then the tremendous respect Bob Carey and the PMA board had for THE PACKER's publisher and vice president Jim Connell and Coon, and vice versa.
Even then, PMA planned its convention sites a few years in advance, and Connell was pushing hard for the association to come to Kansas City in 1975.
A lot of resistance existed among board members, which was understandable because Kansas City didn't have the appeal of a San Francisco or a New Orleans. They were concerned that having the meeting in Kansas City would hurt attendance. At the same time, realizing how much Connell had helped publicize and promote PMA, they didn't want to offend him.
I overheard Ralph Pinkerton, then with the California Avocado Board, say to Carey, ``Why don't we give Connell an award?'' ``What for?'' Carey asked.
``I don't know, but it's a lot easier than going to Kansas City,'' he replied.
In any event, the board finally did decide to come to Kansas City in 1975.
The Kansas City convention was a success. It also was the first year of the floral seminar, so this added a new and exciting element to the PMA convention. By the mid-1970s, PMA had obviously found its niche, which was to get retailers to join and come to the convention.
The program was stacked with retail-oriented speeches and material, and retailers were beginning to flock to the convention. The floral seminar each year also gave retailers another reason to convince their bosses of the benefits of PMA.