A subject that is often top of mind for tree fruit professionals — future generations — will be the focus of the Washington State Horticultural Association’s (WSHA) 108th annual meeting the first week of December. The official theme is “Succession Planning: Preparing the Industry for the Next Generation.” The annual meeting will be held at the Yakima Convention Center, Dec. 3-5. The trade show, the Northwest Hort Expo, will be held those same days at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
The key to succession planning is a technique called SWOT analysis, says David Douglas, the outgoing president of the WSHA, in his letter of welcome to the conference. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” SWOT analysis is a tool that is used to develop direction for strategic planning. “One could go on and on identifying the threats that confront our industry,” Douglas states. “I do believe it is critical to understand the challenges we face but I think it is equally important to focus on our strengths and how to leverage them to maximize opportunities.”
After a welcome from Douglas, the conference will open with the keynote speech, the 33rd Batjer Address: “Stop the Fighting on the Way to the Funeral Home,” by family business consultant Jolene Brown. An acclaimed professional speaker, Brown is also an author. Her newest book is “Sometimes You Need More Than A 2×4,” with the subtitle, “How-to tips to successfully grow a family business.”
Another presentation not to be missed on Monday is “The Economic Impact of the Tree Fruit Industry in Washington State,” by Patrick Jones and Desmond O’Rourke, two esteemed experts. That is followed by a panel discussion: “Succession Planning of Vertically Integrated Operations,”; Moderator: Dale Foreman, Foreman Fruit & Land Company; Panelists: West Mathison, Stemilt Growers; Reggie Collins, Chelan Fruit Cooperative.
During the afternoon there are additional sessions on succession planning:
• “Critical Questions & Best Management Practices”
• “Estate and Income Tax Implications”
• “Succession Planning for the Medium and Small Size Orchard Operation,” (panel); Moderator: Jolene Brown, CSP; Panelists: Keith & Mark Stennes, Stennes Orchards, Inc.; Richard & Alex Thomason, Thomason Law & Justice; Maurice & Andre Tougas, Tougas Family Farms
Tuesday morning features a session on “Implementing Technologies for Successful Planning,” which is led by Jim McFerson, manager, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission; and “Governmental Affairs Post 2012 General Election,” which is managed by Jon DeVaney, executive director, Yakima Valley Grower-Shippers Association.
Tuesday afternoon features a session on organics managed by Stacy Gilmore, Douglas Fruit Company, Pasco, WA; and food safety, co-managed by Jim Colbert, Chelan Fruit Cooperative, and Nicole Brunner, WSHA Membership Director and GRAS2P Coordinator.
Tuesday’s events are capstoned by the annual WSHA banquet, sponsored by Western Fruit Grower magazine.
There are three concurrent sessions on Wednesday morning, one on postharvest, and two others focusing on cherries and pears.
For more information on this year’s meeting, go to www.wahort.org.