Incoming IFTA President Neal Manly
Neal Manly, chief marketing officer with Willow Drive Nursery in Ephrata, Washington, will take over as president of the International Fruit Tree Association at its next annual conference in February in Tasmania, Australia.
Manly began attending IFTA meetings soon after joining Willow Drive in 1995. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy at Brigham Young University in Utah, and an MBA with an emphasis on agribusiness from Santa Clara University in California, and appreciated the IFTA’s scholarly approach. He found its programs to be more cutting-edge and in-depth than the regional horticultural meetings he attended.
Manly grew up on a row-crop farm in Quincy, Washington, and decided at an early age that he wanted to be involved in agriculture. “It’s always in your blood,” he said. Though not a fruit grower, he was elected to the IFTA board three years ago and soon moved into the position of vice president. Manly said he’s likely to have a somewhat different style as president of the organization.
“I’m not ever at a loss for words,” he said. “I’m a salesperson, but I have concerns for other people’s concerns and feelings. I’m not going to go with the flow just because that’s where everybody else is going. I’m
willing to take a position.”
Manly said he hopes while president to see more involvement in the organization from growers in Washington State.
As well as providing educational experiences and raising money from rootstock sales to fund research, the IFTA services a social purpose, which Manly feels is important. The association encourages spouses to attend events and provides special activities for them.
Bennett Saunders of Virginia, the current president, said the people are an important part of what IFTA meetings are about. “I was going for the programs, and now I’m going to see friends.”