In August 2011, Bob McGowan was elected for another three-year term as president of the New England Produce Council. He previously served two consecutive terms, but prior to his current election, Jack Salamon served as president for a term. Mr. McGowan manages produce in the Northeast for Advantage Sales & Marketing.
Regardless of what his position is with the NEPC, he is a staunch advocate of the council and the great work it does.
"The council has approximately 400 dues-paying members today," said Mr. McGowan. "Our mission is to create a vibrant organization that represents all facets of our industry that will create value for our members and sponsors by providing a venue for industry education and social interaction with the ultimate goal of enhancing consumption of safe and healthy fruits, vegetables and complimentary products. Our focus is to always work toward improving the value we offer."
Mr. McGowan said that the Council likes to bring people together in social settings, but it does so with the ultimate goal of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
"Our outreach programs, such as the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools program, is a good example of the work we try to do," he said. "This is the first year that we are participating in the program, and we have donated our first salad bar to the East Boston High School. We are very happy to be involved in this initiative, and we plan to continue to donate salad bars in future years."
The new venue for the New England Produce Council Produce & Floral Expo on April 25 is Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. Mr. McGowan said it is the first time a sports' stadium has been utilized for a produce expo, so this year's event is unique and exciting in that respect. The space is more finite than a banquet room or convention hall, and the Council found the venue intriguing. Exhibition booths will be on each side of the field, so the entire show will have the field as a backdrop.
"We plan to get some of our sponsors and others together and get out onto the field to kick a ball around a little," he said. "We will have a couple of former National Football League players there as well, so that should help stir up some field fun.
"Having Wes Welker, the New England Patriots wide receiver, as our keynote speaker, is in keeping with this year's expo theme," Mr. McGowan continued. "He is one of the smallest players in the NFL, so he had to overcome a lot of adversity to get where he is today -- one of the best receivers in the entire league. We feel he will have some highly inspiring thoughts to share with the produce industry."
He added that the NEPC's constant goal is to expand its reach beyond New England, and to inspire industry professionals from other areas to attend the expo and become involved with the Council.
"We have strong representation from neighboring states, as well as from Canada," said Mr. McGowan. "We always work toward opening our door to professionals regardless of where they call home. It is no secret that some of the major retailers in our organization are headquartered outside of our traditional boarders, and our focus needs to be extended beyond New England in order to better service our members."
He said that the council is also proud to be involved in the Produce Marketing Association's regional Career Pathways program.
"We are always happy to work with the PMA and its student outreach program," he said. "We have arranged a tour for the students and faculty members at Sid Wainer & Son in New Bedford, MA, and we will take them to the expo and mentor them. This initiative is very beneficial in getting young people interested in the produce industry."
As an organization, Mr. McGowan said it is important to continue to evolve as the industry does.
"The NEPC expo is a great opportunity for suppliers and buyers to get together, with everyone sharing the final goal of increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables," he said. "Fortunately, we sell a very good thing, and in doing so we can help to promote better nutrition, especially among young people."