By the way, how soon will Stenzel and Silbermann retire? How much advance notice will each group have before they must prepare for a new era of leadership?
Another industry veteran reminded me that when Bob Carey left the Produce Marketing Association in 1996 after 38 years of service, Bryan Silbermann was not anointed as his successor automatically. Instead, Silbermann distinguished himself in the search process, rose to the top of the pool of candidates and was given the nod. Why couldn’t that have been the case for a merged association?
Before official news came down that the merger was scuttled, I asked members of the Fresh Produce industry Discussion Group “If United and PMA do not merge, who should get the blame?
The options were:
A. The United Board
B. The PMA Board
C. The egos of paid leaders
D. Other (explain)
The poll results and the comments may have passing merit as a historical footnote when the next round of merger talks commences. Among the comments was one who objected with my premise. Why does someone have to be “blamed”? The person observed that the groups have always had two different agendas and the memberships had distinctive and different goals. Why make a round peg fit into a square hole?
Another suggested that PMA may have seen the talks as more of a “takeover” than a merger of equals. Perhaps in vain, one said he hoped that the associations move away from the ‘convention as fund-raiser’ model. He said saying “no” to exhibiting at the shows is like turning away the kid at the door selling “band candy”; it’s tough.
That brings us to the next question for PMA and United. How should both groups respond to the failed merger? Oh yes, it is a discussion group poll question as well. The choices:
A. Business as usual
B. Divide responsibilities
C. Alternate conventions every other year
D. Other (explain)
Perhaps not surprisingly “Business as usual” is the leading vote getter so far.