Monthly Archives: June 2015

#nwamembermondays – Buddy Leger

Buddy LegerIt is no wonder that Mr. CM ‘Buddy’ Leger of Leger & Son, Inc. was honored in Georgia’s Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2012; his outstanding history in produce and specifically, watermelon, has also made him a renown member of the National Watermelon Association.

Buddy’s career began in the early 1950’s when he worked for the Federal State Inspection Service grading fruits and vegetables. In the ’60s, he managed Cordele’s Farmers Market operated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, but it was in 1964 that he set foot in the watermelon business for himself. In the late 1970s, Mr. Buddy Leger recognized the need for watermelon producers and shippers to come together to support watermelon promotion and research. It was this forward-thinking that made Buddy the perfect person to lead the newly formed National Watermelon Promotion Board in its early years. The result of the promotion board has been a marked increase in research and watermelon consumption nation-wide. His 60+ years in the produce industry has given Buddy the background he draws from in his current capacity as consultant for Leger & Son, Inc as well as Greg Leger Farms.

Perhaps what makes Buddy Leger a trustworthy consultant are his strong personal convictions, his strategic thinking, and his dedication. He has been called a ‘straight shooter’ with a ‘servant’s heart.’ We have been blessed to have Buddy Leger as a servant/leader. He has held leadership positions in Georgia’s Watermelon Association as well as serving as President and Chairman of the National Association. Today Mr. Leger sits on the National Watermelon Association’s Executive Council.

I have always been impressed by his (Buddy’s) willingness to go above and beyond the industry standard to better meet the needs of consumers. The selflessness with which he approaches every situation exemplifies a volunteer spirit. Buddy is a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather as well as mentor and leader in his community. He generously applies his personal strengths to improve not only his community but the agriculture and agribusiness community as a whole.”  — Ken Lewis of Perdue Partners

We are grateful for the contributions and faithful service of  Mr. Buddy Leger. The National Watermelon Association is stronger and better because of members like you!

 

#nwafuturisticfridays – Looking Through Periscope

periscope

Smart phone applications, or ‘apps,’ are overwhelming in the scope that they encompass. You can find an app for just about everything. My friends use apps for learning second languages, teaching their children how to spell, and enabling their non-verbal children to communicate with others. My husband uses apps to check the status of his flights, arrange his schedule, and view the weather in all of his favorite places. The apps I use most give me verbal directions, track my exercise and expenditure of energy, and allow me to see and talk to my daughter away at college. The names of the apps are confusing – Skype, Endomondo, Pandora, Uber, etc. To the Millennials, these apps are ‘common knowledge’ in spite of the constant flux and are used to distinguish generations. My children use apps that are designed for social interaction – Skype, SnapChat, and Instagram have practically replaced Facebook for them. It seems that the closer they can get to live interaction the better the tool.

Skype and Facetalk opened the door to face-to-face electronic communication. SnapChat, YouTube and Instagram became popular as a vehicle for the sharing of images and short videos. But there some new apps on the scene competing for the attention of the Y and Z generations – Meerkat and Periscope offer the user the opportunity to share events as they happen – aka live streaming.

Meerkat had not gained a large audience, when Twitter introduced Periscope. Both offer the user the ability to shoot videos of whatever is in front of them, provide commentary, and receive instant feedback. For the younger generations, this means they can share even more of their experiences and adventures with their broadening network of ‘friends.’ The opportunities these new applications provide are endless and they have created a stir on the internet.

For event planning, public relations, marketing and communications these applications have the potential of becoming a significant tool for engaging an audience. Consider sharing events with those unable to attend in real-time, or reaching out to members in the community with an invitation to hear more of a live performance taking place in your establishment. Communication would encourage interaction and stimulate more involvement.

Although the possibilities seem endless, implementation by the user is always the difficulty. For Periscope and Meerkat only time will tell if the apps are easy enough to upload and use, and if they catch on. In the business world, if these apps are to be successful they must prove that they are also able to deliver what they promise and stick around long enough for those of us over the age of 40 to learn how to use them.

 

Stuad70. Camera Obscura. Digital image. Flickr. Yahoo!, 31 Aug. 2011. Web. 24 June 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/miltonkeynesman/6100720484/in/photolist-ai6MDW-3SMzV-bCyo5G-65v5FX-awLj2R-tLi4V-5mLygx-6geUWt-5Z1AwV-5eNWsM-7gHDqi-6xWHdk-4LbbSJ-edhXQZ-ogs3f7-tmecFK-9bmeQA-dDnQbo-4AajTE-5Q2877-8D7PRS-6x2KAz-8gsUz7-8gsUwN-8gsUuu-8gsUrQ-8gpCiX-4r8L3t-6suGfZ-6syQvQ-aVVdv2-7Wp6VY-7WkPRe-scxpPX-scphRy-saEtyX-rwZ6ps-scqpz3-yVjv5-scpeuJ-e9p1AJ-57sB6V-e2Uqvo-svmDQu-4AMdSs-8tGpeP-fhBXDq-36t6yR-4AGXAX-FSKQC>.

#nwamembermondays – Chris Nuzzo

Paul and Chris Nuzzo

Chris Nuzzo is a member of the National Watermelon Association’s new Y Generation Working Group. He’s a Millennial, a natural leader, and a team player. We’ve selected younger leaders, like Chris, to help us strategize for the future of the Association. Chris Nuzzo’s  passion and enthusiasm is contagious and we’re excited to see how his involvement in the working group will impact the future of the Association.

When I asked Paul Nuzzo about his son, he responded immediately and with pride. The successful working relationship he has with his son is evidence of their mutual respect and honor.

“Chris graduated from college in 2007. He was a standout football player at Westfield State college for 4 years. Chris married his college sweetheart, Lyndsey and they have 2 beautiful children, Ava (7) and Aidan (4). In his free time, Chris is also the football Line Coach for Longmeadow High School – Longmeadow went to the state championship last year.” Paul Nuzzo shared about his son Chris and Sweet Mama.

“Although Sweet Mama Produce only started in 2008, we have a lot of experience in the produce and watermelon business. I was a longtime watermelon buyer for supermarket chains and I bought a lot of watermelon from Carr Hussey who had his own business. We always got along well and often talked about doing something together one day. So in 2008, Carr and I teamed up with a third partner and started Sweet Mama. Together we have over 100 years of experience. Sweet Mama has growers in Florida, Georgia, and Delaware.

About the time we started Sweet Mama, Chris was starting a teaching career as a gym teacher and football coach. When I told Chris that I was going to start a watermelon company his eyes lit up and he said he wanted to work with me. He resigned his job and has been with Sweet Mama from day one! He knew nothing about watermelon or the produce business, but has been eager to learn right from the beginning. Chris is my assistant and technical ‘guru.’ He handles a lot of our accounts and is an integral part of our sales team. He coordinates sales, deliveries, appointments, and just about everything in between. He wears many hats for us.”

“Chris is our IT expert on orders to be shipped and he does our EDI billing, sets all appointments, and processes our Food link PO#s . Chris has been an asset to our organization. ” — Carr Hussey

“Chris Nuzzo is a highly motivated man.  My experience with Chris has always been great.  He tells it like it is in an industry that has a lot of gray areas.  He is determined to satisfy all parties concerned including growers, shippers and customers.  When you speak to Chris you instantly know where you stand and because of that he is a great communicator.  A lot of his instincts are based on the fact that he was a successful athlete and now a passionate coach and family man.  I am grateful to having Chris in our Sweet Mama family.” — George Melshenker

The National Watermelon Association is grateful for the strong work ethic and values of the Nuzzo family. We are confident that members, like Chris Nuzzo, will capably and faithfully carry the baton of leadership into our future.

 

#nwafuturisticfridays – the future of farming and ‘sustainability’

 

vertical farm_1-2013082813776524617514When I was a child, all orange juice available at the grocery store was ‘from concentrate.’ The perception at the time was that in this form, the juice had the longest shelf-life, best taste, and could be shipped most easily to a wide range of consumers. These notions were correct and the taste of orange juice was consistent and the cost affordable. However, if you had access to fresh squeezed orange juice, you would look down your nose at the concentrated version. Over the years, the consumer demanded a juice closer to the fresh squeezed and processes were modified to meet the demand. Now most consumers under the age of 25 don’t even remember the concentrated juice and perhaps overlook the ‘not-from-concentrate’ on the label.

In the last ten years, the demand for organic foods has skyrocketed. What was once found in a small section of one aisle in the store, can now be found in almost every lane. The cost is higher, but as the demand increases, there are more producing organic options, which in turn pushes the cost down.

These are just a couple of examples of how market trends affect production and yield – not unusual or surprising. Sustainability is the newest ‘hot-button’ in agriculture. It’s the idea that responsible use of resources, or stewardship, is best in the long run.

Overproduction of waste alerted our attention to the need to reduce, reuse, recycle. Even Oscar the Grouch had to move to the Recycle Bin. Competition for natural resources, food waste, obesity and related health issues, and increased population forecasts are now turning the attention of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs toward agriculture.

From the UN Division for Sustainable Development, a report dated March 2012, entitled Food and Agriculture: the future of sustainability, identifies main trends and the challenges they pose as we move toward 2030. Although the article is a few years old, the issues of concern author Daniele Giovannucci summarizes are still relevant to today’s farmer and impact agriculture and society. According to Giovannucci, ‘Agriculture is at the threshold of a necessary paradigm shift.’

In light of the population trajectory that Giovannucci anticipates by 2030, a major increase in food production, without degrading resources or encroaching on remaining natural habitats and biodiversity, is necessary. How does Giovannucci and the Division for Sustainable Development propose to solve these problems? She summarizes nine (9) items to address. These include organizing small and medium farms as a primary focus of investment (she looks to China, of all places, for her example); providing access to more nutritious food options, rather than simply ramping up production (subsidies for foods that do not contribute to public health would be eliminated); pursuing healthy ecosystems that are biodiverse and water-conscious; encouraging practical innovation and sharing it across socio-economic divisions; significantly reducing waste along the entire food chain; restricting the use of arable land for biofuels; developing intelligent and transparent measurement practices; adapting public and private institutions to effectively respond to the goals; and finally, rewarding those businesses and systems that contribute to the ‘public good.’

Upon first reading of these suggestions, the solutions sound viable and reasonable. But on closer examination, the solutions, if implemented federally, would require a great deal of oversight and perhaps regulation. Do these ‘visionaries’ assume that farmers are unaware of the issues they face? Many are already addressing these challenges. Farmers are interested in efficient and effective practices. They implement innovative solutions to waste, water conservation, soil sustenance, effective measurement practices, etc., simply because they yield the best results. Their land is their livelihood and the wiser they manage their resources the better the outcome. Keeping an eye on the consumer demand has always been fundamental to those in agriculture.

Associations, like the National Watermelon Association, were founded in order to gather those with a common interest for the benefit of the entire community. Our members have access to the latest production practices, research to combat disease, information regarding consumer trends and demands. I have heard many stories about how our members have helped one another to meet obligations, share resources, and even send workers. Innovations, like water-conserving irrigation tape and mechanized equipment to seed seedling trays, are developed and shared within the membership of the Association.

Perhaps the forecast outlined in the Sustainable Development report is correct. It seems that the watermelon industry has solutions of its own to meet the future with optimism.

 

“China’s Futuristic Vertical Farms.” -China’s Future Vertical Farms. Outdoor Design Source, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 19 June 2015. <http://www.outdoordesign.com.au/Environmental/Green-Roofs-Green-Walls/Chinas-futuristic-vertical-farms/1683.html>.

Giovannucci, Daniele. “Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.” International Organization 1.2 (1947): 350-54. Sustainabledevelopment.un.org. Mar. 2012. Web. 19 June 2015. <https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/agriculture_and_food_the_future_of_sustainability_web.pdf>.

 

 

#nwamembermondays Hamilton III and Hammy Dicks ~ Father and Son

FH-DICKS51815-EXECS

Our members are family, literally. Many of our growers and shippers have passed businesses on to their children and even grandchildren. It is a wonderful legacy and something that makes the membership of the National Watermelon Association unique.  Hamilton III and Hammy Dicks are a perfect example, both have grown up working with their fathers selling watermelons.

FH Dicks Company of Barnwell, South Carolina began growing and selling watermelons in 1935. Today father and son, Hamilton Dicks III and Hamilton Dicks IV (aka ‘Hammy’), operate FH Dicks Co. as well as the South Carolina branch of Melon 1 Inc. The Dicks, together with Lawrence J. Lapide of New York, Richard Chastain Melon Sales in Florida, and Jimmy Henderson of Warren Produce from Texas from Melon 1 Inc. – a leading watermelon shipper on the East Coast.

Attention to detail and quality  and responsible resource management are values that Hamilton III has passed down to his son Hammy. Hammy has learned that if they consistently offer high-quality, sweet, ripe watermelons, their customers will come back for more.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Hammy for the past 8 years and his knowledge on the watermelon as a whole has given me a helping hand in the field and on the sales side of this industry. I’m hoping my knowledge on computers and technology has been able to help him just as much.

–Trey Miller

Leadership also runs in the Dicks family. The Association has been fortunate to have had both father and son in leadership roles. Currently, Hamilton Dicks III is serving on the Auction Load Committee and Hammy Dicks serves on the Executive Committee. We are so grateful for families that pass the baton of leadership on to their children.

Our Association has been in existence for over 100 years and many of our members and their families have spent meetings and conventions together. So that members like Hammy Dicks, not only work in watermelon with his father, but with those children of other members with whom he has shared so many mutual life experiences. The National Watermelon Association is like no other. We are proud to call Hamilton and Hammy Dicks family, and we thank them for their many contributions to the Association.

 

 

#nwafuturisticfridays – Generation Z, the Centennials

z

As the Y Generation becomes the majority of the workforce and the Baby Boomers begin to retire, the new generation making a debut is the Z Generation, otherwise known as Centennials. These are the kids who were born around the turn of the century, the oldest of whom will turn 19 this year. This generation is on the move and make up about a quarter of the population.

XYZ University, generational surveyors and experts in the field, tell us the these Centennials love to text, but hate email; love to share their opinions, but do not believe there is such a thing as an expert in any field; love flexibility and freedom, but are less rebellious and more trusting of their parents than prior generations.

Exposure broadcasts of horrific events, rumors of national threats, and a future of climate instability has given these young people a world view that projects danger at every turn. It is no surprise that they seek security and stability or that they are not interested in creating conflict. Although they are apt to follow rules, Centennials are not afraid to question them. This generation is comfortable with themself and what used to be considered ‘hipster’ is now simply the ‘norm.’

As the Y Generation become parents and their focus turns to the security future of their families, it will be this Z Generation that enters the workforce with their fresh perspective and realistic approach. Will they be embraced by society, or discounted? Will Associations like ours reach out to them or ignore them.

Centennials may be a generation of few words, but they want to be in the conversation. Let’s engage them and see where the discussion leads.

 

 

Lucas, Tim. “Zed’s Dead.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 3 Jan. 2007. Web. 08 June 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/toolmantim/358674210/in/photolist-xGim7-oy6MJk-pR3rZY-ouAYDo-ouPzSf-odahAu-6BKZNZ-odaHRZ-fLBE8m-4S92Kg-ouPgvg-oujatL-4VidHr-fqSmxE-odx7WU-9Z7aSz-ov9Vac-bDeJjs-o69gob-jjAADT-5tFwKC-9yGi5T-bkzk4j-qNLTHD-iNroW-74zXke-av965v-dY9xcd-6s8yoq-6uiuNB-nxE7RZ-4GXcBN-91RZjy-jZJZnt-2wRtd2-aoRBaX-7Pw64G-687acN-9aA3F6-4Q1UGW-fL7ZZw-aFkarQ-Ch3rL-r5WsP5-azkN29-4yg1Dn-aKvNXT-9vdQaf-piWCt9-996os>.

Sladek, Sarah. “Gen Z and Your Business – XYZ University.” XYZ University. N.p., 14 May 2015. Web. 08 June 2015. <http://xyzuniversity.com/2015/05/genz-and-your-business/>.

#nwamembermondays – Mary Beth Welby


MaryBeth Welby

In 1967, Mary Beth Welby began her journey in the watermelon industry. She and her husband were the only watermelon growers that took their produce from town to town in the state of Missouri. She recalls making daily trips delivering watermelons to Scott City, Hazelwood, Mexico, Warehouse, and Produce Row, Missouri.

My introduction to Mary Beth Welby came from Richard Novak. Here are some of his memories of Mary Beth.

“Mary Beth spent her entire life involved in the watermelon industry. She and her husband hauled watermelons from southern Missouri to St. Louis. I’m not sure if they traveled south during the early part of the season and bought watermelons. She was in charge of the Missouri/Arkansas Watermelon Association for many years. She knew everybody at the Terminal Market in St. Louis back when I first met her. I was just getting into the business of selling bins in the early nineties when she called me. She took me (I drove) down to the boot heel of Missouri and introduced me to some of the growers and shippers.

She used to talk about delivering watermelons to Bob Hope’s hotel room when he performed in St. Louis (I have seen autographed pictures of Bob thanking her for the watermelons). 

Greg Leger and I were talking last week and we both seem to remember that Mary Beth was the person the first introduced us to one another.”

Mary Beth Welby celebrated her 91st birthday this year. The majority of those years were spent in the watermelon industry and the National Watermelon Association. We honor Mary Beth today for her many contributions, both to the National Association and as a leader in the industry in Missouri and Arkansas. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mary Beth, her reputation as a strong business woman at a time when agriculture was made up predominantly of men leads me to admire her tenacity. Thank you, Mary Beth, for your fortitude and service to our Association and to our industry. We wish you a very happy 91st year!

 

MB WElby Bob Hope 3

#nwafuturisticfridays: Slow and Steady Wins ~ Motto of Millennials

tortoise

You may recall the phrase, ‘slow and steady wins the race’ from Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, but perhaps you wouldn’t equate the phrase with Millennials and financial planning. According to Janet Novak and Samantha Sharf of Forbes online, Millennials were ‘coddled by their helicopter parents and scared straight by the Great Recession’ which has turned them into ‘ a generation of savers.’ They suggest that the reason these young people are saving for their retirement in their 20’s is because they have very little confidence that Social Security and other government programs will be available for them. In their article, The Recession Generation: How Millennials are Changing Money Management Forever,’ Novak/Sharf state that this generation is practical, emphasizes stewardship or wise money management, and has a long-term appreciation for the use and economical benefit of technology. They are convinced that Millennials will be at the forefront of online innovations in budgeting, planning, and money managing that will ‘transform the entire universe of Americans’ investable assets.’ Although the generation is often depicted as underemployed and living with their parents, they control roughly $2 trillion in liquid assets.  By the end of the decade, when this generation enters their prime earning years, the number is estimated to jump to $7 trillion!

These Millennials, that witnessed the transformation of the telephone into a ‘smart,’ multi-functional tool, want to redefine the personal finance practices of the past. New investment and financial planning companies, like LearnVest and CB Insights, have arrived on the scene introducing economical, high-tech, mobile-friendly features that target young investors; and the staid grandfather finance companies, like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, are taking note. Instead of optimizing profitability and adding on fees, these upstart financial planning companies are thinking about their end customer and making their sites user-friendly. To quote Sharf, ‘the race to reinvent money management is full-on.’

Industries are impacted by trends and financial trends affect every industry. It gives me hope to see this younger generation rising out of the ashes of the financial crises of the past couple of decades and carefully and responsibly marching into the future. Slow and steady is sure to win the race.

 

“The Tortoise.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 5 June 2015. Web. 04 June 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/christine-wagner/15442909933/in/photolist-8PEYEW-4kA3aa-4g1Rur-49HGS-GUfX3-9DYyo1-8kJbdj-dcgzo6-eyJePU-7QwCWc-pwCX6P-cwSMnS-eyF5LK-JhRtQ-scYSWy-7B4tat-9WmQPq-5mgWcd-p5LiLJ-6ouK74-48VcUQ-48VdhN-48Vd7f-9jRUm5-a6Go3P-ana15L-aok5pB-JhQc5-8kADT1-5hpcev-guWJzs-6vMSrv-6vMSv4>.

 

Sharf, Samantha. “The Recession Generation: How Millennials Are Changing Money Management Forever.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 June 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthasharf/2014/07/30/the-recession-generation-how-millennials-are-changing-money-management-forever/>.

#nwamembermondays – Nowell Borders

Borders

 

If you’ve been reading our Member Mondays articles, you may see a common thread among our members beside watermelon. The work ethic runs deep and dedication to family even deeper. Nowell Borders is a dedicated member of the National Watermelon Association and we’re so proud to call him ‘family.’ His own family describes him best, so I will let his wife, Ranell Borders, introduce him to you.

“Nowell Borders was born March 30, 1970 in Shreveport, Louisiana.  He grew up in Center (a small East Texas town).  I was told that even as a young boy, Nowell loved to work.  He was always helping his father, Ronnie Borders, who grew watermelons. 

As Nowell got older he started stacking bulk loads of watermelons, running crews, and along the way learning Spanish.  As soon as he graduated from high school, he packed up and moved to McAllen in south Texas.

 When I met Nowell a few years later he was farming, harvesting, and shipping his own watermelons and thus started Borders Melon Co.  Our office at the packing shed consisted of a couple bales of hay with a piece of ply wood on top for a desk and a phone.  It worked pretty well at the time. 

Since then things have changed quite a bit.  Nowell now has offices and farms throughout Mexico, Texas, Georgia, and Florida.  His operation has grown, his Spanish is second nature, and his love for watermelon still beats strong.  Nowell has always told me, ‘You have to think like a watermelon, to know what they need.’  This seems to have worked for him.  He is always thinking of new and more efficient ways to farm and harvest watermelons.  He works hard, and even after two hip replacements his gait might have changed, but his stride is still moving ahead full speed.

 I am very proud to call this man my husband and so grateful for the life he provides for our family and the families that work alongside him on this journey.  He is our life – our watermelon vine!”

The success of BORDERS MELON COMPANY, INC is determined by their success in operating as a unified team. According to Nowell, you have to earn the trust and respect of customers every day. Borders backs their product up with their service, and that service is provided by their team. There are no magic formulas.

This is the way Borders Melon Company does business and the way they look at their membership in the National Watermelon Association. Nowell Borders is a man who understands the meaning of teamwork and service. As a member of the Association for over 19 years, Nowell has served in various capacities. Currently Nowell is serving on the Executive Council.

Thank you Nowell, we are privileged to have you on our team!

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