United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) has announced that its executive board has unanimously chosen Mark Klompien as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer, replacing Jerry Wright.
“We are excited to have Mark on board to lead UPGA and continue on the solid foundation laid by Jerry Wright,” said Chairman Jed Ellithorpe.
Before joining UPGA, Mark Klompien served for four and half years as president of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association (ISGA). Prior to his time with the IGSA, he was the vice president of supply chain management at Idahoan Foods, and also spent 18 years at Basic American Foods (BAF), and six years at Lamb Weston. During his tenure with BAF, Klompien held a number of positions in engineering, operations, raw material, supply chain, procurement, and government relations.
Klompien spent virtually his entire life in potatoes – from growing up and working on his father’s seed potato farm in Montana, to his lengthy career in the potato processing industry. He has worked first-hand with all of the grower-shippers in Idaho, as well as most other potato-producing states, and has built positive and trusting relationships along the way.
In addition, he has served as the chairman of the Potato Executive Committee for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI), and also served as a board member and executive committee vice-chair of IACI. Klompien also served on the University of Idaho College of Agriculture advisory board, and on the board of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.
Holding a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture engineering from Montana State University, and having completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business executive program, Klompien obtained his professional engineering license in 1995. He and his wife Valerie make their home in Idaho Falls, ID.
When announcing his retirement in August, Jerry Wright indicated that he would continue in his role as CEO until the board of directors found a suitable replacement.
“Jerry Wright’s contribution to the potato industry is immeasurable,” Ellithorpe said.
Along with principal United founder, Albert Wada of Wada Farms in Idaho, Wright was a key organizer and recruiter for potato growers in Idaho, Colorado, Columbia Basin, Klamath Basin, and Wisconsin. Wright plans to devote his time as a volunteer for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, working on worldwide self-reliance programs.