The following articles from The Packer's “A Century of Produce,” were published in 1993.
As The Packer prepares to publish our 125th-anniversary edition later this year, we are posting some of the writing from previous anniversary publications.
100 Who Made a Difference, Foundation Builders focuses on individuals who helped shape the produce industry from its beginning.
John S. Arena
One of the founding fathers of the Western Growers Association, John S. Arena built his family’s business into the largest buying broker for California table grapes in his time.
Arena was secretary of the WGA from the time of its formation until his death in 1969, and he served as president of the association in 1930.
When he was 10, he began working in his father’s business, but his career began with his apprenticeship at the produce house Williams and Co. in St. Joseph, Mo., where, within four years, he became the general manager. He then married and moved to Los Angeles to join his father's business, A. Arena & Co., Ltd.
In the 1930s, Arena’s family business became the largest cash buying broker in both the California table and juice grape markets after recognizing the need to finance their own production and then planting in the Imperial and the Salinas valleys. The company went on to make the California grape brands “Pansy” and “Carnation” respected names.
Arena later went on to become president of the A. Arena & Co. Ltd., a position he held until his death in 1969.
An organizer and leading grower-shipper, C.C. Bell founded what became the International Apple Institute, the oldest national trade association in the United States.
Charles Christian Bell immigrated to the United States as a child with his family in 1854, after a stormy voyage in which they were shipwrecked and returned to England before landing in New York on a second try.
His father, German-born John Bell, made his way to Missouri and established the family home upon a farm two miles south of Boonville, Mo. Charles was 6 at the time. Bell left the farm in the mid-1860s to attend a business college, but he returned home in 1877 to open a fruit packing and shipping business with his brother. In 1886, he successfully organized the Central Missouri Horticultural Association.
That experience proved to foreshadow Bell’s role in forming a national association. On Feb. 7, 1895, Bell called a meeting with 10 others at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago.
Sharing a desire to improve conditions in the apple industry, Bell and other grower-shippers formed the National Apple Shippers’ Association. This organization became the International Apple Shippers’ Association in 1903, the International Apple Association in 1929, was incorporated in 1954 and in 1970 became the International Apple Institute, its name in 1993.
Bell was elected president at the first NASA Convention on August 1, 1895, and served two terms. At the time, 81 firms from 22 states were members.
The Bell Fruit Farm, Boonville, Mo., continued operations in 1993, though not by the Bell family.