Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association Leaders Discuss Merger
UNITED STATES - One collective voice is rising to move the world toward fresh. Such was the message as Tom Stenzel and Cathy Burns opened a media forum with their respective teams to discuss the merging of United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA).
“Most CEO transitions are one walks out, the other walks in, if you are lucky there is a letter on the desk, if you are not the door is closed and the locks are changed,” Burns pointed out of the unique position she and soon-to-be-Co-CEO Stenzel are in. “I can tell you our relationship is none of that. Our eye is on what’s best for the members and the industry, and I have the gift of a transition time that me and members of my team can learn everything from Tom that we can.”
Stenzel echoed the bond the leaders share that has, as United Chairman Michael Muzyk and PMA Chair Dwight Ferguson each pointed out, made the merger of two large associations possible.
“We have had overwhelmingly positive responses from across the industry, including members from both associations,” Stenzel commented. “Cathy and I have been building a relationship for the last several years finding ways to work together in food safety and some of the other industry issues. That trust put us in a space to start the conversation and ask: Do you think we could be better together?”
Deeply rooted in a relationship the two CEOs have cultivated since Burns was Co-Chair for the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) at Food Lion, trust and understanding was a common theme that yielded the coming trade association giant led by the motto “Better Together.”
“‘Better Together’ is our mantra, and we will be a force to be reckoned with,” Muzyk shared, ensuring the top priority of the newly-united associations will be to “support this industry, support our members, and drive change.”
That change is already well underway behind the scenes for both parties, which have been in talks for as long as six months and continue to hammer out everything from the brand the union will become to how to blend established practices and programs on both sides.
While much is still in the strategic phase, both Stenzel and Burns remained optimistic of little, if any, cuts coming down the line as they reconstruct an organization ready to represent our industry not just nationally, but globally. Instead, they are concretely focused on growth—for fresh produce, for floral, and for all who bring those items to the consumer.
“This is really all about creating more value for the combined members of United and PMA, both associations have a long rich tradition of doing just that. We all believe by coming together we can do it better going forward by leveraging the synergies and talented staffs in both associations and pursuing our mission, vision, and values in a collective,” Ferguson pointed out.
While the official date that will dissolve PMA’s and United’s separate corporations is January 2022, we will likely see Stenzel and Burns together on the Fresh Summit stage this October in New Orleans, at which point both hope to unveil a lot more details of the future they are designing. To see what is known about the new association's goals and plans, click here.
“We are taking our future members' needs into consideration. We wanted to get the news out, but we also want to be able to co-create this in the best possible way to set us up for strong success,” Burns shared, noting the goal is to create a centuries-long brand from the union.
With much clearly on the horizon, this is one story that is far from over. So, continue to keep an eye on AndNowUKnow as we bring the latest developments on this and other groundbreaking moves in the industry.