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The PMA: Produce and its People

The PMA was great! I went to Anaheim with an agenda, not only because I wanted to learn a few things from our customers, but having specific topics to talk about helps me stay focused on asking people enough questions to eventually find out things that are important to them.

The trade show was as energetic as expected, colorful, noisy and very active. Companies bring their best game to these events. Shiny machines, colorful produce items, flashy technology, and tasty samples of all sorts of food and beverages vied for my attention. I got home with potato peelers, stress balls, pens and paper, samples of nuts and candy, bottle openers, and...and...and….

But the best takeaway ended up being the people. I had great conversations with many people, and this was probably a result of changing my expectations for the show. These events are not cheap, especially for small companies. In the past I have attended them with the burden of making them pay for themselves in new business.

Not this time. From the first morning at breakfast through the very last conversation I had with a temperature monitoring vendor I was focused on listening to every last word people felt like telling me. The stack of business cards I walked away with are not just a bunch of ‘potential’ customers. Rather, behind almost each one is a story.

I think I am becoming my dad, finally. One of his favorite things to do is to ‘work a room.’ He absolutely loves to talk to people and it seems like he knows everybody. It’s because he is interested in who they are, where they come from, what they like to do, and where they are headed.

It was exciting to come home and get to work. Meeting people, both new and old friends, was like a shove in the right direction. You know, like when we learn to ride a bike, and whoever is holding us up gives one quick push and off we go?

This morning I stepped out onto our balcony and inhaled a huge long breath of crisp Salinas Valley air. The cooler it is the easier it is to smell the nearby crops, and today the air was full of celery. Soon most of the fields will be harvested, and that celery will be all over the country fresh and ready for the holiday. How many people, each with their own story, does it take to get that crop in the ground, grown, harvested, packed, shipped, delivered, and in the stores?

It really is all about people.

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