November, 2015

Special Note

With Loving Purpose, We Celebrate A Milestone

Thirty years ago at the PMA Convention in San Francisco, we unveiled a new entrepreneurial venture that would grow into an industry institution: PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine. We had deep roots in the trade, as my great-grandfather Jacob Prevor moved the family produce business from Russia into the old Wallabout Produce Market in Brooklyn. Then my grandfather Harry Prevor moved the business to the old Washington Street Market in Manhattan, and later, my father Michael Prevor moved our headquarters to the then-brand-spanking-new Hunts Point Market in the Bronx. 

Yet, though our roots were old and deep, we wound up doing something new and innovative. We launched a magazine that in many ways revolutionized the trade press. From an aesthetic point of view, we pioneered the move away from old newsprint to a paper that reflected more the beauty of our products. From a substantive standpoint, we elevated industry discussion by moving away from weekly news reports to the higher level of strategic business thinking that dealt with marketing, merchandising, management and procurement issues, while facilitating the forward movement of the industry. Indeed we adopted  as our motto a note of engagement as we committed this entity to “Initiate Industry Improvement.”

In time we found new ways to serve our purpose – with online newsletters, websites, webinars, live share groups, conferences, trade shows and more. But it all went back to those early days and thoughts of inspiring the children of today’s produce executives to be more proud of their parents’ occupation. We thought we could accomplish that by elevating the conversation to a higher level intellectually. 

It has been quite a ride. What started with a hotel room drop of magazines in San Francisco turned out to be quite a bully pulpit, and it led to more than 100 TV and radio appearances, articles or quotes in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times,  Times of London,  Los Angeles Times and more. We’ve given speeches and presentations on every continent, save Antarctica.

We have much more to do… with the passing of time, we actually see more clearly where we want to go. There are destinations we will travel to, and we are excited that in bringing the industry with us, we travel with friends.

Journalism is sometimes portrayed as a contact sport, but we have always seen our role as uplifting. Whether everyone has agreed with us or not, we have engaged with industry members who sincerely want the trade to advance and who realize that only robust discussion, by the best minds in the business, could move the industry forward. We’ve been fortunate to sit in the epicenter of those discussions for three decades, to interact with the best, the brightest and the most earnest the industry has to offer.

Especially rewarding about this journey is that I have not travelled it alone. I remember the day I called up Ken Whitacre and asked if he wanted to join me on a great adventure. It is 30 years later and we are still finding new rivers to ford and mountains to climb. Few who read this will know Diana Levine, but she typeset the first issue of PRODUCE BUSINESS with her own hands and is still working with us today. Eric Nieman and Ellen Rosenthal also have gone most of this journey with us. 

My family has stood with me since the beginning. My mother edited the first articles and typed many a list. My brother has been a constant source of insight and advice. When we started, both my grandfather and father were alive. My grandfather died shortly after we started publishing, but I still remember him handing out copies to his friends and neighbors in Tamarac, FL. 

My father inspired the whole enterprise, from my childhood days when we had dinner conversations over the trade publications of the day until we launched The New York Produce Show and Conference. He was still healthy and could make the first event. For a son, it is a great moment to watch your father gleaming – how proud he was that we had built something that served the industry, the industry he had toiled in all his professional life.

There are new people now – just as we have new events and publications, new ways to create and new ways to serve. We go across the ocean and around the world now. And because the life of a magazine and a company is a continuum, they deserve thanks as well.

We also go back to PMA, where it all started. And this year, we wish we could sit down with each and every reader, every attendee, and just say thank you. What we have accomplished the past 30 years is only possible because so many joined us in trying to make this industry a better industry. 

So much has happened in my life and business. I now have a wife and two fine sons. Seemingly every investment bank in New York and London has hired us for our thoughts. But for all that is new, love never dies, and the continuum from my great-grandfather Jacob to The New York Produce Show and Conference and The London Produce Show and Conference is a story written with love. 

If we could actually meet with all our industry friends, our promise would be to let love inform all we do for the industry in the 30 years to come.                          pb