Armed with a slow Southern drawl and a quick mind, Charles Hall has a singular focus on the needs of Georgia growers.
Working from his hometown of LaGrange, Hall serves as the executive director of the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Association.
With his father working at a rural electric cooperative, Hall grew up on a small, non-commercial farm near LaGrange. He attended the University of Georgia, earning both bachelor and masters degrees in horticulture.
He started the LaGrange-based Association Services Group in 1995. A key early client was — and still is — the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Association.
Hall began working as executive director of the association soon after it was incorporated in 1996.
“In the mid-1990s, any number of produce industry leaders (in Georgia) realized they really needed a trade association that spoke for the produce industry,” Hall said.
“That’s been kind of how we how we have evolved from there, starting with zero members and just working to try to grow and represent growers,” he said.
As the volume of Georgia produce has increased over the past 30 years, the association also has flourished.
With nearly 500 members now, the association is meeting its objective, industry leaders believe.
Hall has been instrumental in bringing Georgia fruits and vegetable to the forefront of national attention, said Dick Minor, a partner with Minor Produce Inc. and Minor Bros. Farm, Leslie, Ga.
Whether talking about immigration issues or the farm bill, Minor said Hall knows all the players in Washington, D.C.
“He’s the key player in our industry here in Georgia,” Minor said, praising Hall for his work ethic and diligence. “He has done as much for our industry as anybody.”
Hall said the key to the growth and progress of the association has been its volunteer leaders.
“You want to have the support, guidance and involvement of the members of the association, and that’s the key to how we have evolved and grown and been a key player in the world of produce in the Southeast.”
Meanwhile, Hall said he and his staff are focused on listening to association members and working to help them do a better job and identifying issues that need resources.
“Whether that’s legislative or regulatory issues in Washington, whether it’s educational needs or research areas, those are the kinds of things that we need to be on top of, and we need to be making sure our members understand and know what areas can help better their farms or better their operations,” Hall said.