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Pundit’s Mailbag — Houston Will Need To ‘Step It Up’ For PMA’s Permanent Rotation

A quick review of Post-PMA-convention articles before we move on to our letter of the day:

PMA Analysis — Does Houston Merit A Permanent Place In The PMA Rotation? — this was the question we asked to kick off our post-PMA analysis.

PMA’s Attendance Just Shy Of 16,000, focused on attendance.

Peter Dessak, Vice President of Six L’s Packing Company, pointed out that with a hotel room in the Galleria area, there were increased costs. The piece was called, Pundit’s Mailbag — PMA Needs To Factor Bus Time And Taxi Costs Into Convention City Choice.

Pundit’s Mailbag — Selling Versus Learning At PMA, featured a contribution from Jack Vessey, Vice President and Marketing Director for Vessey & Company, who focused on the benefits of increased attendance by growers. This piece also raised the issue of a ‘disconnect’ between exhibitors there to sell and some attendees at PMA to learn.

Pundit’s Mailbag — Should PMA Facilitate Meetings During Program Times? — dealt with the tension between accommodating attendees’ desires to set up their own meetings and PMA’s need to maintain attendance at official functions.

Pundit’s Mailbag — PMA’s Opportunity To Learn From Friends And Foes, included a letter from Eric Schwartz, President of Dole Fresh Vegetables, defending the PMA convention as a fantastic opportunity to learn and build friendships.

Today, we thought we would deal with a few of the more succinct letters related to PMA.

A prominent customs broker based in South Florida thought our critique of Houston — that its “two core” layout… some near the convention center and some near the Galleria — was not what the industry wants. She was right on target:

We were wondering if you overheard our conversation on Monday night ?

Your views were exactly ours.

Although Houston was a nice show, we missed the “together” feel that you get from other cities such as Atlanta and New Orleans.Those are the shows whereyou know as soon as you step out of your hotel room, you are bound to “bump into someone.”

See you in Orlando …

— Ana M. Ramos
Doral, Florida

From across the country, an avocado expert had similar thoughts:

Your comments on PMA/Houston clearly define the reason why this venue does not work for PMA.

For those of us who see the off-floor meetings as a very productive part of the convention, Houston was a logistical nightmare.

Despite this, Prime Produce International did have a very successful 4 days in Houston. But, I look forward to Orlando in 2008!

— Avi Crane
Prime Produce International
Orange, California

A gentleman who lives right near the site of PMA 2008 is urging PMA to go West:

Ask the exhibitors and heed their opinions. San Diego and the Gas Light District was a great place for the PMA. San Diego should be added as a permanent place in the PMA rotation.

— Louis J. Hymel III
Director of Purchasing/Marketing
Spice World, Inc.
Orlando, Florida

Alas, San Diego has joined an exclusive club — a roster of very nice cities that are now too small for PMA. The convention center in San Diego is 3 or 4% smaller than Houston and Houston was maxed out. Assuming that PMA wants to stay out of the cold and heavily unionized cities, we are pretty much down to a rotation that would include Anaheim, New Orleans, Atlanta and Orlando.

JC Myers of Eurofresh seems happy to go anywhere as long as it isn’t Houston:

You forgot to mention the weather delays that regularly strand travelers for 20+ hours at an airport that can’t accommodate all of us in 1 Chili’s bar!

I say good riddance to Houston!

— JC Myers
Regional Sales Manager (Monterey, California)
EuroFresh Farms
Willcox, Arizona

The consensus was probably represented by the following representative who works in the fresh fruit affiliate of a company well known for organic juice. Nothing wrong with Houston if they would just build more hotels and restaurants near the convention center:

Because we flew in from Florida, I see only two drawbacks to the Houston Convention Center location; there were minimal hotels within a close proximity of the center, and few places to dine.

For us Floridians, it would be nice to have it in a similar location but with the closer accommodations and restaurants.

— Janet Barrett
Fruit Division Team Member
Uncle Matt’s Fresh
Clermont, Florida

The feedback is very focused:

  1. The extracurricular activities at PMA are as important to many attendees as the program and show.
  2. It is very difficult and expensive to have a big chunk of the show out by another center, as is the case in Houston with the Galleria district.
  3. Dining options within walking distance as in the Gaslight District in San Diego are valued highly, saving both time and money.

Many thanks to Ana M. Ramos, Avi Crane, Louis J. Hymel III, JC Myers and Janet Barrett and their companies for contributing to the industry discussion on this matter.

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