A former member of the Board of Directors of one of the national produce organizations and a member of one of the most prominent families in the produce industry passed along this letter:
Just read your response to United’s President/CEO Responds and, while I’ve been tempted previously to comment on a few other topics, I now feel compelled to share some late-night thoughts.
It bothered me to read of the pain and offense you felt.
It also highlighted for me why you take the time to do what you do — at Produce Business and with your newest venture The Perishable Pundit. Aside from being incredibly knowledgeable about just about everything, and accessible, and well-regarded by people in an industry that are not always known for taking advice from others, you’re also caring and tireless, fair and incisive, and of course thorough in your command of facts. And, almost always right.
While you obviously struck a nerve with Tom, eliciting some unkind and perhaps mean-spirited comments, know that we all benefit from the observations you’ve made and the challenges you have lobbed “our” way. I agree with much of what you’ve said about United/PMA and the industry associations’ response to the food safety problems of late. Some was provocative (and maybe even controversial) but nothing you said suggested there was reason for anyone to question your industry loyalty or commitment.
Hang in there Jim.
We’ve started a terrific dialog here on important industry issues and we hope that everyone, including Tom, will be a part of that constructive dialogue.
Yes, we didn’t like those words that struck us as irrelevant to the substantive analysis of the quality of ideas presented. But Tom is a smart, successful and well liked guy, he has a lot to contribute. Our assumption is that he was just having a bad day. Everyone, even the Pundit, is entitled to one now and then.
The important thing is that if the industry is going to advance, then people of many different opinions will have to be heard and instead of ad hominem attack we have to focus on the quality of the argument being presented.
One of the things we have tried to do at the Pundit is to take issues and explore ways of thinking about them, as we did here, with lessons that can be applied to other issues.
There are plenty of smart people in this industry. We want to get them all contributing toward a solution to industry dilemmas.
This being our focus, we still have to say thank you both to this letter writer and the many calls and notes we received from others on the same point. We try hard, so we appreciate the kind words. We’ll work diligently to earn them.