October, 1996

Special Note

Success As A Matter Of Roots

It is normal practice of PRODUCE BUSINESS to use its pages to discuss and analyze the produce industry. Once each year, though, on the occasion of this publication’s anniversary we set aside one page to report to our readers on our progress and to thank our readers for their support. This is that page.

It was eleven years ago this month, at the PMA convention in San Francisco, that PRODUCE BUSINESS was launched. That fledgling enterprise, founded like most entrepreneurial ventures on a vision and a prayer, has blossomed in the fullness of time into the magazine you hold in your hands today.

It is in many ways amazing. We have full time employees now in five states and correspondents and representatives across most of the globe. Hardly a day passes when someone in this industry isn’t calling for help: Perhaps it is a large company or association needing a speaker for an annual meeting, or a small retailer with food safety questions. Maybe they just need reprints or extra issues to distribute to customers and suppliers.

Some requests are large, others small, but each one is precious because each one illustrates just how tightly PRODUCE BUSINESS has become woven into the fabric of the industry.

This is a business magazine and so its pages are a record of an ongoing saga of a thousand unheralded battles, by a thousand unheralded produce firms, for market share, for business success, for survival. It makes sense for me to reflect on how PRODUCE BUSINESS has accomplished what we have. For surely, in this success, there must be lessons for other businesses.

To start, I think that we began with a great advantage, roots in the produce industry that go back to time immemorial. When, as a child, my father brought me down to his place on the old Washington Street Market in New York, he could already point out to me the building where my grandfather was a wholesaler and auction buyer and, on the route to Washington Street, he could point out the location of the old Wallabout produce market in Brooklyn and explain how my great-grandfather had come to this continent and continued in the produce trade which his father and his father’s father practiced back in Europe.

Roots mattered in our success not, as some think, principally because it gave us access to industry information or the big players — though it did both of these things. Our deep roots in the trade gave an ennobling purpose to this quest that we called a magazine. In addition to the usual reasons for launching a business — a market opportunity, a desire to make money, etc.— we had another reason: From its founding, PRODUCE BUSINESS has not contented itself with simply reporting on the industry but, instead, has challenged itself to help elevate the industry.

What PRODUCE BUSINESS stands for is a notion that one of the world’s oldest industries, the distribution of fruits and vegetables, has evolved into a trade of such sophistication that new ways of thinking are imperative.

This isn’t always an easy business model to sustain; it means being brutally honest about issues some would have us be quiet about. Still, I could not imagine functioning in any other way. And the same deep roots which summoned up this attitude have given us the fortitude to stand our ground when others would have cut and run. So roots matter.

The very fact that we have built this business from scratch also has created a strong bond between this very entrepreneurial industry and this very entrepreneurial magazine. For building a business has let us experience, first hand, the pleasures and perils of American capitalism and, in so doing, it has enabled us to share, heartbeat for heartbeat, the pulse of entrepreneurial capitalism that keeps the produce industry going.

As we head into year twelve, I am astounded at our good fortune and thankful for our blessings. Yet, no matter how bright the prospects, nothing is ever easy. As the produce industry prepares for the next millennia it will need plenty of help. Meal replacements, genetic engineering of produce, irradiation, national promotion campaigns, food safety and issues we haven’t dreamt of yet will all pose challenges and offer opportunities.

Some will seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges, others will be oblivious to the opportunities and fall victim to the challenges. My pledge to you, our readers, today, is that the successes will be the ones that accessed the insight and resources of PRODUCE BUSINESS to help build their businesses.

Our advertisers, of course, make all we do possible and we are proud of the business we help create for them. I hope that the industry recognizes that through their support, these companies are helping to build a more innovative, more successful produce industry. They deserve my thanks and that of the whole trade.

For all that PRODUCE BUSINESS owes to suppliers and advertisers, to employees and friends, I, never, for even a moment, let myself forget that it is readers that make a magazine. It is all for naught save that people pick up the pages, read them and put the ideas to work in their business and in their life.

It is readers who turn dead type into vigorous song. So, to all who have given PRODUCE BUSINESS life, a special thank you and a special promise — that with each issue we will strive to evolve to a greater resource for the trade.

Actually, I have to work extra hard this year because we are expecting a new subscriber to PRODUCE BUSINESS. My brother, Barry, and sister-in-law, Abbe, are expecting a child around Thanksgiving-time, the first of a new generation of Prevors.

I don’t know the name, I don’t even know the sex, but I know it is a baby and knowing nothing more than that, I see all the potential in the world. It is to the development of that potential in us all that this magazine is dedicated.  pb