Two long-established tree fruit organizations closed their doors on August 29 as they merged into the new Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
Neither the Washington Growers Clearing House Association nor the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association will have staff working with the new association.
The staff at the other two organizations, Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association and the Washington State Horticultural Association, will transfer to the Washington State Tree Fruit Association with Jon DeVaney as executive director.
Kirk Mayer, manager of the Washington Growers Clearing House, is retiring. Mayer, joined the Clearing House 41 years ago as assistant manager and has been manager since 1997.
Dan Kelly, assistant manager of the Clearing House since 1997, and CleAnn Goodell, bookkeeper, were not offered jobs. Membership assistant Charlotte Randolph opted to retire. DeVaney said August 29 that Randolph’s position had not yet been filled. Interviews for a new position of director of regulatory and industry affairs will take place in September.
While at the Clearing House, Kelly had served as an industry spokesperson on pricing and movement data and had been involved in compiling national crop statistics, chairing the U.S. Apple Association’s annual forecast meeting for the Western region.
He was a committee member of USApple’s Industry Information Committee and its Membership and Communications Committee. In addition, Kelly provided education services for Clearing House members and helped maintain its Web site, which has 70 statistical reports and archives dating back to 1957. Its Web site will become part of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association site.
The Clearing House was founded in 1941. It published a weekly “yellow sheet” bulletin showing fruit prices and movement that it sent to about 2,000 grower members and industry people.
Charlie Pomianek, manager of the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association, also retired Friday, as did his assistant Pat Wheeler. Pomianek, a former stockbroker, had managed the association since 1992.
The organization was formed in 1917 primarily to track shipments of apples from the orchard to market and track shipper inventories. The association also negotiated contracts for rail cars to ship the fruit.
When Pomianek joined the association, there were about 60 fruit warehouses in the Wenatchee district as well as more than 20 marketing entities that were members.
Today, because of consolidation, there are only about 20 packers in north-central Washington, and the association had 38 voting members when it closed down.
“Change is tough,” Pomianek said, “But change is good. I think with the issues that the industry’s going to deal with going forward , a better, statewide, coordinated effort will pay dividends. There’s going to be some stops and starts and sputters going forward, but it’s a new day, and it’s going to be a new team.”
Pomianek urged growers and packers to be involved in the new organization and make their needs known. “They’re going to have to be proactive versus reactive going forward. I think that’s real important because the new organization will have to reflect the membership and the membership will have to be engaged.”
The two staff members at the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association, Tracy Morrill (data analyst) and Jayme Smith (data analyst and office manager) were both hired by the new association.
The Washington State Horticultural Association will officially become part of the new organization after its annual meeting in December. Executive Director Bruce Grim is retiring. The other three staff members, Nicole Brunner (director of education and member services), Stephanie Chance (communications manager), and Joanne Thomas (member services assistant), were offered jobs with the new organization.