The annual trek to the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo was even more invigorating than usual – partially because airline cancellations last year prevented me from attending, so I was extra hyped to be there this year! More importantly, seeing all of the young people at the show who were excited and enthused to be involved in the fresh produce industry filled me with a sense of hope.
As business leaders, we often hear about the retiring baby boomer generation and the skills gap in the upcoming generation. I have been honored with a child entering the business, following in the footsteps of four generations before him. Many other businesses have not been as fortunate; the industry as a whole has seen a decline in family lineage succession.
In Monterey, there was no shortage of youthful energy. The show was loaded with fresh faces just waiting to offer their fresh ideas. Produce knowledge is learned over many seasons and relationships are built over many meetings. This most recent round of meetings highlighted the great youthful talent entering the industry.
Our job as veterans is to coach and mentor these ‘kids’ with both the product knowledge and the personal introductions to help them succeed. This young blood is our greatest asset and needs to be managed carefully.