By Bruce Grim
Two and one-half years have passed since West Mathison broached the idea of industry consolidation in Washington State at the December, 2011 Annual Meeting in Wenatchee of the Washington State Horticultural Association (WSHA).
Through much discussion, the Industry Consolidation Task Force has navigated the course that seems to finally have found an organizational structure that accommodates the interests and concerns of all four groups, those being WSHA, the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association, the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association and the Washington Growers Clearing House. (Read: Goodbye, Washington Growers Clearing House; hello, Tree Fruit Association)
The process has been measured in its pace and as thoroughly open and transparent as it could be. With the adoption of the “Elements of Organization” by three of the four groups as this goes to press, the next steps are to create the new Articles of Incorporation and By-laws for the interim Board of Directors to adopt, followed by the search to fill the President/CEO position for the newly created Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
To serve the needs of the industry as it exists today, one would not create four separately funded, separately directed and separately managed organizations.
The task of managing the flow of historical sales data, governmental affairs, education, food safety, grant administration and regulatory affairs to name a few can all be tasked within a single organizational structure.
Two organizations lobbying and three of them gathering and disseminating pricing data is redundant. To speak with the clarity of one voice in Olympia will enhance the strength of that message.
With three of the current executive directors nearing retirement, the time is right to bring the consolidation movement to fruition. Greater efficiency in service and message delivery will shepherd money saving economies as well.
The race has been long and arduous, but we are entering the bell lap with the finish line in sight. What has made WSHA great for 110 years is that we have been providing services to the industry and they are more important and greater in number than ever before.
Like a bride taking a new name, our role and function will expand as the tree fruit family continues to grow. I expect our work will be just as important to the industry 110 years from now as it is today. What we do will always have greater importance than what we call ourselves.
Bruce Grim is Executive Director of the Washington State Horticultural Association. These comments originally appeared in the WSHA’s Spring 2014 Newsletter.