Normally this magazine is strictly business. Every page is devoted to the important business of helping produce people increase sales and profits by giving you, our readers, the tools needed to do your job or run your business better.
But one of the wonderful things about publishing a magazine is that one has friends one doesn’t even know about. When I travel around the country, talk to people on the phone, or read my daily mail, I learn that through the pages of PRODUCE BUSINESS we’ve been engaged in a dialogue with readers across the country and around the world.
So once a year, in October, I take this space to bring our friends and friends-to-be up to date on the inner happenings of PRODUCE BUSINESS. To let you know where we’ve come from, where we are and where we intend to travel.
This issue is a milestone. PRODUCE BUSINESS was launched in October 1985 at the PMA convention in San Francisco. So now we celebrate our fifth anniversary. And we do it in grand style.
For this issue culminates years of growth and development as PRODUCE BUSINESS has come to claim its place as an institution in the industry, serving a need for information previously unidentified and providing a marketing opportunity previously unavailable to suppliers to the trade.
We get quite a number of phone calls and letters. Some are from people furious because we made a mistake or took a position they didn’t approve of. Others are just as adamant in praising some article or column or in expressing appreciation for some coverage they received in the magazine.
But the contacts I enjoy most are with those individuals looking for real help. Sometimes it’s an established company looking to set up a new program and wanting advice on how to do it. Other times it is an entrepreneur calling to share his dream for building the business he has in his heart.
Of course a magazine is a business too, and building this business over the past five years has been an enormously rewarding and exciting experience. But more than that, I think having gone through our own start-up and having lived the entrepreneurial experience has helped make PRODUCE BUSINESS a better magazine.
Sweating to create something out of nothing, working to raise capital, persuading people to see the value in a new idea…all of these things are the day-to-day tasks of building a business. Having lived them, I think, gives me an edge in understanding what business, and life, are all about. It adds a perspective and maturity to our coverage that most journalism lacks.
PRODUCE BUSINESS today has achieved enormous success in many ways. Critically, we are constantly recognized for our contributions to the trade and excellence in our editorial product. We are currently serving as Member of the Year for the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association. In the publishing community, we have been honored by The Successful Magazine Publishers Group, The American Society of Business Press Editors, The New York Business Press Editors and, most recently, the Florida Magazine Association, which honored us with 9 awards, far more than any other trade publication, in its annual “Charlie” awards program for editorial excellence.
As far as ad sales go, we’ve been pleased to welcome to the ranks of PRODUCE BUSINESS advertisers virtually every top firm in the industry. And, even this year, when the newspapers are filled with stories of bad times for publications, we continue to experience a double digit percentage of advertising growth, by far the fastest growing publication in the field.
Perhaps most gratifying has been the growth in circulation. Today, fully a third more people receive PRODUCE BUSINESS than any other publication in the field.
To a magazine publisher, this figure is important because, in the end, what makes a magazine matter, what makes it important, is that people want the magazine to be a part of their lives. People take words on a page and bring them to life by using the ideas in PRODUCE BUSINESS. They take pure thought as expressed in our pages and turn it into real action.
To have a magazine that people rely on is truly a privilege and an honor. And the knowledge of our debt and obligation to our readership is what animates and guides all we do.
Of course, PRODUCE BUSINESS didn’t spring fully born from my mind or anyone else’s. PRODCUE BUSINESS, as an idea, has been constantly, and is constantly, refined to better meet the needs of the trade. In fact, if there was one lesson in the growth of PRODUCE BUSINESS for the businesses of the produce trade, I would say it is the need to be flexible. One can’t take the attitude that “this is what I do and that is that” – one has to always be on the lookout for new and better ways to serve.
For though this fifth birthday is a milestone, I know it to be one in a Churchillian sense. That is to say that this is not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but rather, merely the end of the beginning.
PRODUCE BUSINESS is just starting to spread its wings. In the months to come, keep your eyes peeled for a series of new and exciting features. All designed to serve the trade in innovative ways.
In addition, PRODUCE BUSINESS is expanding. This very month we published our second issue of FLORAL BUSINESS, with more to come in the months ahead.
Another exciting project PRODUCE BUSINESS has embarked on is The Retail Institute. The United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and PRODUCE BUSINESS, in a historic joining of expertise, are co-sponsoring this exciting program of continuing education for retail produce professionals. The program immediately precedes the United convention and will provide retail produce-oriented training and education that is sorely needed.
Perhaps even more exciting is a massive research effort that we have launched with The Fresh Approach, the industry’s generic promotion arm. This project is designed to create a new tool for the produce industry through a continuously fielded survey of consumer attitudes toward produce and the produce industry. This project will provide information to enable the industry to respond more effectively to consumer concerns and to monitor those concerns on a continuous basis. The end result of this project will be a greater understanding of consumer needs and desires, leading to more effective produce marketing and higher produce consumption.
All this is merely a prologue. In the months and years to come we will be taking our ideas and bringing them to you in dozens of interesting, informative and useful ways.
And no one can do it alone. On this our fifth birthday, my own heart overflows with gratitude to our excellent staff, who have truly dedicated themselves to producing a product without peer. The industry is very fortunate to work with people who always manage to make me look so good.
You learn a lot about people by working with them year after year, particularly if that work involves lots of trips and work late at night, on weekends and holidays. And so I have learned a lot about Ken Whitacre, who has been part of PRODUCE BUSINESS since the start. I’ve learned how lucky I am to have been associated with Ken in this exciting adventure of building a magazine and a company, and I’ve learned he possesses an unusual brilliance. A quiet intelligence that sees through the nonsense that life throws up and seizes the essential from the mist of the peripheral. It is inconceivable to me that we could be where we are today had Ken not given himself, heart and soul, to this project.
Another reason this magazine has come so far is because of the dedicated loyalty of our suppliers and shareholders. Our advertisers also deserve the appreciation of the entire trade for supporting PRODUCE BUSINESS. Their ads not only contribute valuable information, but also, the companies that advertise are performing a public service to the trade, as they provide the resources enabling us to run the articles that help people sell produce more profitably.
Our subscribers are especially appreciated. After all, they are why we do everything we do, and so we could not exist if it weren’t for people’s willingness to spend a few hours a month in the company of our pages.
And on a personal note, I must thank my very supportive family, which has dared to dream a dream along with me. They have made this project their own.
Five years ago, in our very first issue, in this very space, I defined what this publication was meant to be. So much has changed in the five years that have passed, but at least two things remain constant. First, I vowed that we would serve the industry with truth and with style. I believe that we have done this and pledge we will continue to do so.
And second, I dedicated this project to my father, Michael Prevor. I wonder sometimes what it might have been like to grow up with an ordinary man as my father. I will never know, for my burden and my blessing has been to be the son of an extraordinary man. Five years ago, I explained that if this publication, or if I, were to ever amount to anything, it would surely be due to my father’s wisdom, guidance and encouragement. That is no less true today.
On this occasion of our fifth anniversary, I once again pledge our very best to the industry and re-dedicate ourselves to being the measure of excellence in our field. And I once again dedicate this project to my father. pb