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New PMA Floral Council head seeks to offer year-round value

The incoming head of the Floral Council of the Produce Marketing Association sees the 30-member group’s main task in the year ahead as developing a workable program that can be carried out by volunteers while the council builds upon its success at the PMA Fresh Summit and attracts the financial support to carry out the program.

Joe Don Zetzsche, appointed by PMA officials to succeed Michael Schrader as chairman, will become chairman at the council’s meeting at PMA Fresh Summit, and is loathe to be too specific about future plans. He said the program will likely focus in the short-range on floral standards, leadership talent development and understanding the floral consumer. The latter is a forerunner to activities designed to increase domestic floral consumption, he added.

“The Floral Council is in a good position to build upon its work of the past two years,” said Zetzsche, director of floral for the H-E-B chain with headquarters in San Antonio. He has been chair of the council’s membership committee, a key group, and worked closely with Schrader in attending and conducting town meetings and council gatherings at industry events. “I’m grateful to vendors who stepped up to the plate and supported the council’s work,” Zetzsche added.

“I’m also thankful that H-E-B is allowing me to take on the volunteer work that chairmanship carries with it at this important time in the development of the Floral Council,” he said.

Among his immediate goals is to make the council a self-sustaining affiliate that elects its own membership and leadership, gives the industry an independent voice, provides added value and increases floral sales. Long-range goals include a small professional staff to help carry out the work of the council, while drawing on PMA for administrative resources, he said. “We want to represent the entire industry, from grower to retailer,” Zetzsche concluded.

Zetzsche grew up on a hard-scrabble farm in Hereford, TX, a town of 15,000 in north Texas that is the county seat of Deaf Smith County (in fact, the only town in the county). He “got out of there as fast as I could,” he said, graduated from Texas Tech and went on to earn an MBA at Abilene Christian University. He joined H-E-B in 1989, operating a cash register as a checker, and worked his way up the corporate food chain to become head of floral in 2008.