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Pundit Mailbag — Passing The Legacy

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, December 18, 2008

Our piece, PMA FIT Awards 1st Tip Murphy Scholarship: Michael Engeman Of La Manna In Australia To Attend Leadership Symposium, which followed up on our piece, Scholarships Available To Industry Through tip Murphy Legacy Fund, brought some nice responses. Jim Still, founder of Thermal Tech and inventor of TarpLess Ripening, has contributed previously, including here, and he decided to send some praise:

Outstanding piece on La Manna, Tip, and Bernie, nice work. Attaboy! (I don’t give out too many of those)

— James D Still (Banana Jim)
Consulting Director of Cold Chain
Moraitis Group of Companies
Homebush Bay, NSW
Australia

We also received a more extensive letter from a Chiquita executive:

Thank you for providing the media support on Tip’s scholarship. It was a great article on Michael Engeman with Bernie Treacy. I also think it is a great choice to have someone outside the U.S. as a winner and there is even a link with Tip as well.

In one of my previous roles with Chiquita, I was responsible for overseeing our Australian subsidiary, Chiquita Brands South Pacific. In the mid-90’s, after Wal-Mart had become a major force in the U.S. produce business and category management was the vision of the future, we asked Tip to travel to Australia to discuss these issues firsthand with our people and Australian customers.

Of course, Tip was a major hit, and I do believe his early visit was one of the reasons why there is such a significant Australian/New Zealand contingent at PMA these days. We followed up that meeting a year or two later with a separate meeting with Woolworth’s produce team at PMA in Anaheim.

— Craig A. Stephen
VP & GM Bananas
Chiquita Fresh North America
Cincinnati, Ohio

As they say, great oaks from little acorns grow and it may very well be that the trip Tip made has made all the difference.

Those who study history are divided into two camps. Some see great impersonal forces at work driving outcomes. These historians believe that the world is as it is because of these forces — that individuals play roles but if those individuals in history were not there, other individuals would have read from basically the same script. An alternative view, sometimes called the “great man” theory of history, is that history is made by individuals.

We don’t dismiss economic, social and technological forces, but we find that a bit too deterministic. We doubt that if Einstein wasn’t there, another one would have just popped up. We also are certain that it made a difference that Adolph Hitler and Winston Churchill were the individuals squaring off.

And in our personal lives, we have found that it is the unique qualities of individual friends and relatives that make all the difference. In sister publication PRODUCE BUSINESS, we once wrote a column titled, Ralph, Dave and Carl, when in one year we lost Ralph Pinkerton, Dave Stidolph and Carl Fields. And, of course, there was that horrible day we lost our friend Joe Nucci. Now we are giving a scholarship in memory of Tip Murphy.

When we remember friends like this, we find that we remember not just them but we remember what they brought out in others and in ourselves. We remember the way we felt when we were with them and we mourn their loss, at least in part, because a little part of ourselves, that part that they brought out, passes away as they do.

Programs such as the Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation and the Tip Murphy Scholarship for Leadership Excellence serve many purposes. They continue the good work that these individuals started when they were alive, they memorialize a name for future generations so that a temporal existence can be given a little aspect of immortality and, for those who knew these men well, the events give us a moment when we can remember what it was like to be together and, even if only for an instant, we can feel almost as we did when we were with our friend.

Many thanks to Castellini, Chiquita, Naturipe Farms, Paramount Citrus and Ready Pac, all of which provided the foundational grants that made the Tip Murphy Fund possible. Thanks also go out to our peers on the committee: Todd Melton of Chiquita, Scott Owens of Paramount Citrus, Bruce Peterson of Naturipe Farms, Bill Schuler of Castellini Company, Bob Spence of Ready Pac and Dick Spezzano of Spezzano Consulting Services, along with Tip’s widow, Gretchen, and Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions and the PMA FIT staff, especially PMA FIT’s Executive Director, Cindy Seel. All have worked hard to find a great scholarship candidate and to launch a great program.

Good luck and safe travels to Michael Engeman. We look forward to new friendships forming at the Leadership Symposium in Dallas.

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