Monthly Archives: October 2015

#nwafuturisticfridays – Future Facets of Facebook

fansFacebook Facts* – in 20 minutes:

1,851,000 status updates are shared on Facebook

2,716,000 photos are uploaded

1,323,000 photos are tagged

1.972 million friend requests are accepted

10.2 million comments are posted

2,716,000 messages are sent

1,587,000 wall posts are written

The number of people who are on Facebook make up 1/13 of the earth’s population, and yet there are businesses and associations that have not embraced this social platform. Perhaps the social aspect of the site and the potential of time mismanagement are at the core of their apprehension. Yet there is research to suggest that social tools, like Salesforce’s Chatter, Microsoft’s Yammer, IBM’s Connections, and LinkedIn have actually improved productivity in the workplace. Nucleus Research found that users of Salesforce’s Chatter actually saw a 12.5 % increase in productivity because their employees send fewer emails and had accelerated access to work information.

Facebook has created a business-oriented version of their site and is testing that site right now – it’s called ‘Facebook at Work.’ One hundred companies are participating in the trials. Facebook hopes the site will stimulate collaboration rather than idleness. It is their belief that workers are better equipped to do their jobs when they have better information and that information can be gathered rapidly and effectively when it is done collectively.

Branding a business, encouraging engagement, embracing new members, and marketing a product or service, are just some of the benefits companies have experienced by incorporating social media sites as a part of their marketing strategy. Yet over 35% of employers worldwide prohibit access to Facebook in the workplace. Facebook at Work is meant to be used solely within a company amongst co-workers. Perhaps this knowledge will curb inappropriate posting and remove the stigma of Facebook at work.

“Everything is based on the value and feeling of being connected, which in the workplace results in a more productive environment.” stated Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s director of global platform partnerships and overseer of Facebook at Work in an article on

“It’s built a community feel within the company in a pretty short time that I don’t feel that we had before,” said the vice president of Stella & Dot, one of the companies testing the new version. Besides the ‘community feel,’ the trials are reporting: faster decision-making, recognition in real-time for accomplishments, project update sharing, quicker information gathering, and familiarization of co-workers in other offices.

Heineken USA tested the site and is now extending the option to more than 500 employees. “We were looking for an interactive space for our employees to share and reconnect. We really liked the fact separated people’s personal Facebook account and they had a designated ‘at work’ account,” said Heineken’s employee communications manager, Jacqueline Leahy.

Whether your company decides to incorporate social media in the workplace will not stem the tide, it’s coming whether you choose to embrace it or not – utilize it or not. So my advice to you is, go ahead, wade into the waters.


Nicole Schrader

*”50 Facebook Facts and Figures.” N.p., 8 Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Wong, Queenie. “Facebook Goes to Work: Social Media Giant Bringing out Site for Business.” N.p., 17 Oct. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

#nwamembermondays – Vincent “Jim” Vitale

Vince Vitale

Jim Vitale (1926-2007)

Vincent ‘Jim’ Vitale was affectionately known as the “Watermelon Man of the Eastern Market” in Detroit. He was in the produce industry most of his life. His father came to this country in 1924 from Sicily and opened a fish store. In the 1940s, Jim’s father moved his shop to the Eastern Market and transitioned to produce. After World War II, Jim and his brother Frank, joined their father’s business. They soon gained a reputation for selling the best quality watermelons and bananas. Jim became the Watermelon Man during this period and was selling over 24 million pounds of watermelon a year by the 1980s.

A little known fact about Jim Vitale is that he sought a patent for an educational game he created for children in 1984. The game demonstrated how watermelons are grown, harvested, shipped, and transported to food stores and fruit markets.

Jim was a member of the National Watermelon Association for many years. He served as President of the Association in 1980-1981. He was Chairman in 1982. He was an active participant and generous donor at our annual convention auctions and a good friend to many of our members. Jim Vitale made valuable contributions to the Association and the industry and we are very thankful for Jim and his family.

Membership in the National Watermelon Association provides access to industry leaders like Jim Vitale. These leaders care about the personal and professional lives of our members and seek their best interests and success. They help, advise, counsel, and serve out of sincere friendship and concern and we are fortunate to have them as guides.

Consider membership in the National Watermelon Association today by joining one of our regional chapters and become part of the Watermelon family and the magnificent legacy.



#nwafuturisticfridays – To Tie or Not to Tie?


This is not the first line of a modern-day Shakespeare play, but rather a fundamental question in reference to men’s fashion attire. In the past, tie producers planned new lines and designs of neckwear for men and established an association for Men’s Dress Furnishings. It never occurred to these businessmen that ties would see such a dramatic decline in sales. Nevertheless, business attire became less formal and the tie was relegated to weddings, funerals, and a select number of country clubs. These men didn’t seem to notice that fewer younger men were interested in wearing ties and that the trappings from the past were uncomfortable in the present. Although surprising to the producers of men’s ties, the necktie’s falling out of fashion seemed a natural occurrence to the rest of us – much like the decline of the cuff-link.

You may be wondering why I would pull out an old article that has seemingly nothing to do with the produce industry or associations.  In response, I must say that there are always lessons to be learned when we reflect on the past. In this case, I wonder whether the members of the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association were aware of the changing trends or whether they stubbornly thought they could survive the drought.

“Historically, the guy wearing the navy suit, the white shirt and the burgundy tie would be the CEO,”  Marty Staff, chief executive of JA Apparel Corporation, stated in the 2008 Wall Street Journal article. “Now he’s the accountant. Power is being able to dress the way you want.”

According to the article, even the tie manufacturers themselves had mixed feelings about wearing ties and many didn’t wear them. But not every tie-maker was oblivious to the trends. Scott Sternberg, at the age of 33, founded the Band of Outsiders tie label in 2004 with a brand new approach to the traditional tie. He designed skinny ties, sold them at high-end department stores, and developed a following of young hipsters who love his designs. Sternberg even won an award for best emerging menswear designer from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Men like Scott Sternberg, who look at changing trends as an opportunity to make something different or new, often find themselves successful in spite of trends. Someone coined the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and although the original meaning suggests that we look for the positive solutions to life’s challenging problems; it also means that something that appears to be distasteful can be turned into something very sweet.

So the question remains, ‘To tie or not to tie?’ When the answer became ‘not to tie’ the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association closed its doors. But others did not give up so easily. There has even been a resurgence of the bow tie!

When trends suggest that you’re business or practices are becoming irrelevant, what will your answer be? I challenge you to take the innovative approach and make some ‘lemonade.’

Nicole Schrader

Smith, Ray A. “Tie Association, a Fashion Victim, Calls It Quits as Trends Change.” The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 4 June 2004. Web. 16 Oct. 2015.



#nwafuturisticfridays – Great Recession Yields a Generation of Optimists


Raised during the Great Recession, Millennials entered the workforce during a significant economic downturn. Although they currently make up the majority of the workforce, attaining employment has been fraught with obstacles. In a report produced by the US Council of Economic Advisors, the overall unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 18-34 peaked at over 13% in 2010. In 2014, unemployment dropped to 8.6% for this age group, a substantial reduction that introduced 990,000 Millennials into the workforce.


According to the report entitled, ’15 Economic Facts about Millennials,’ the repercussions of the Great Recession will affect future labor force outcomes. Research indicates that the economic atmosphere during a child’s upbringing can influence their future earnings and financial behavior in adulthood. In addition, the report states that individuals who experienced the Great Recession were likely to invest less and pursue more conservative investing strategies throughout their lives.


Millennial face slow wage growth associated with the Great Recession and the years that have followed, in spite of the fact that they are the most educated generation in the history of our country. These college graduates have seen a greater level of employment than those without degrees. Nevertheless, the college debt that many of them have accumulated have made financial independence a challenge. Many Millennials are still living at home and statistics show that they are getting married and purchasing homes later in life than earlier generations. Job security is important to this generation and they are making less transitions early in their career than the generation that proceeded them.


Undoubtedly, at this point you may be wondering how Millennials could be considered a generation of optimists in light of these indicators. Millennials are “largely optimistic” about their future success. Their unprecedented enthusiasm for technology rivals their desire to make a positive impact on their communities and society. They place a high value on relationships with friends and family which enables them to integrate their work and personal lives naturally.


Closing with the conclusion from the report:

“In sum, quality of life appears to be a focus of this generation. Millennials value staying close to family and friends, having free time for recreation, and working in creative jobs. However, they also want to make a positive social impact on their own children, their communities, and on society as a whole.”

Nicole Schrader

“Bing.” 15+economic+facts+about+millennials –. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2015.


#nwamembermondays – Gerald Mann

Gerald Mann

At the 1979 National Conference, the proceedings were dedicated to the Gerald Mann family for their ‘untiring efforts’ which had resulted in the continued growth of the National Watermelon Association. Over 30 years later, many of our younger members may not recognize Gerald Mann. It is my pleasure to reintroduce you to Gerald Mann and his contributions to our watermelon family.

Gerald Mann is currently a member of the Lifetime Council and has been a member of the Association for over 40 years. He operated Gerald Mann LLC in Pearsall, Texas and participated in the leadership of the Texas Watermelon Association. He is still a member of the Executive Council in Texas. From 1978 to 1979, Gerald was the President of the National Association. Following his presidency, he held various other leadership roles including Chairman of the Executive Committee in 1979.

For many of our members who have been in leadership roles, simply stating the positions Gerald held is enough information to communicate the services that he rendered. But for those of us who have not served in those capacities, it’s important to get a glimpse of the breadth of their service. In addition to the daily responsibilities of owning and operating your own business and home, the President of  the National Watermelon Association must also turn their attention to oversight of the National office and its staff. They serve sacrificially, giving both their time and resources for their colleagues and competitors equally. It is their desire to see the watermelon industry flourish, which means they must keep abreast of the federal issues that affect all our members. Gerald Mann was involved – as are all our officers – in the promotion of watermelon sales and the research that positively impacts yield.

The commitment our leaders make is more than one-year in office. Once their nomination is confirmed, they step into the office of 2nd Vice President and then go on to 1st Vice President before their year as President. Following their presidency, they  take on the role of National Chairman. This four-year experience binds the hearts of our officers to the Association and its members for a lifetime.

Gerald Mann followed this path and we appreciate his service. Today we again recognize the Gerald Mann family for their untiring efforts and dedication to the National Watermelon Association. Thank you Gerald.





#nwafuturisticfridays – Communicating to a Mobile Generation

mobile devices

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” Joseph Priestley


It may seem reasonable to assume that communicating with technologically-saavy young people is as easy as learning their language. But I have found that knowing how to post tweets, snap chat, and message, does not automatically open the door to understanding. Reaching Millennials can prove to be a greater challenge than upgrading to the latest smartphone.

So how does an Association reach this younger generation and communicate the value of membership? If the goal is remaining relevant throughout generational transitions, how do we assess their needs and evaluate our ability to meet them within our Association’s framework? Evidently, the National Watermelon Association is not the only organization asking these questions. Books have been written and articles published addressing this issue. We’ve even cited many of them in our weekly blogs. Nevertheless, all the suggestions and recommendations are only as good as their application or implementation. Where do we begin?
In her brief article, Creating Membership Value for the Next Generation of Your Association, Cate Girone suggests that the answer to these questions is as simple as gathering a few friends. She writes,
“When you form a group of younger members within your association, you essentially create a resource that you can tap into to research what the next generation of your membership needs and how your association can help. Feedback from this group can help you determine if your current member benefits will appeal to the next generation, or if you need to expand your benefits to include offerings that better appeal to them.”
If you’ve ever asked your teenage son or daughter to teach you how to use your phone, then you may be quick to recognize the veracity and simplicity of Ms. Girone’s suggestion. Rather than solely gathering research done by Baby Boomers regarding the needs of Millennials, we need to invite this younger generation to join the discussion and listen to what they have to say. We may find that more can be accomplished over a capucino than we’d ever expected.
“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” Sydney J. Harris
Nicole Schrader

Girone, Cate. “Creating Membership Value for the Next Generation of Your Association.” Creating Membership Value for the Next Generation of Your Association. AH, 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 02 Oct. 2015. <>.