Dear DFA of California, Safe Food Alliance, and Safe Food Certification members, customers, business associates, and employees,
On December 20, 2019, I will officially retire from my position as President/CEO. I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for the experience afforded me over the past ten years. It only seems like yesterday that I stepped across the threshold from being a member of the board of directors to take the helm of this 100 plus year-old organization, where I was given the privilege to guide it through another decade of its enduring history.
As we have traveled this journey together, who could have imagined how far we would come. Over the past decade, my team and I have reshaped this century-old organization into a full-service provider of food safety and quality services and collaborated with our strategic partners to improve the wellbeing of the industry.
Like many advocacy organizations, the Association was formed in 1908 to engage and service a specific sector of the agricultural industry. From providing a forum for relevant industry discussions and acting as a liaison between industry bodies, to supporting and directing research, we have strived to offer specialized services that improve the overall business conditions within our sphere of influence.
But also, like all 100 plus year-old organizations, to survive and prosper, it is essential to be highly adaptive to the changing needs of society. In the last ten years, we have seen a dramatic shift in food safety. Consumers, now equipped with knowledge at their fingertips, demand transparency, expect safe food and do not give their trust as easily. Because of this changing atmosphere, I held a high sense of urgency to ensure our team was adaptive to the changing needs around us. And I am happy to say they have met the challenge.
This transformation to be relevant to the present-day needs of the food industry has resulted in a bundle of services highly regarded and widely embraced by our business partners.
When I look back at our company’s success and learnings, I think about how our mission, vision, values, and guiding principles have come to life. I have always believed that by turning employees into partners gives them a strong sense of ownership in sharing the broader vision that daily drives the company’s success. This larger vision clarifies our purpose of linking us with our business associates throughout the community we serve.
To our employees, as we adhere to our core purpose and principles, we must always remember to be innovative and adaptive to the changing needs of the world in which we live. We can never accept the status quo. Rather embrace the curiosity to look beyond the horizon and have the courage to drive new ideas. Remember, as you grow as a leader, bring others forward with you, and enjoy the successes together that come from strong teamwork and dedication. Strive to be the best version of yourself and bring out the best in others. Your dreams will come true again and again.
To our business partners, from the board of directors, members, customers, and associates thank you for the opportunity to collaborate with you over the years in addressing the pertinent needs of the industry. I will always remember the support and encouragement you have given me.
Vaughn Koligian, our incoming President/CEO, is a true servant leader, and he will lead our combined organizations onward with a passion for excellence and a strong spirit of collaboration. Our leadership team is extraordinarily capable and deeply committed to maintaining a high standard in the programs we offer.
I don’t say goodbye. Just thank you. Thank you to my amazing wife, who has been my partner throughout this incredible journey. Thank you to my children and grandchildren for their support and endearing admiration.
As Cervantes said, “The Journey is better than the Inn,” I have truly enjoyed this journey and as my son recently said, “Dad, you are never going to retire, you are just going to redirect.” Probably no truer words have been spoken.
I look forward to the next chapter and the journey that lies ahead.
Thank you all for the wonderful experience!