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In addition to the March 18 announcement that Brad Watson had joined the management team of J.C. Watson Co. in Parma, ID, the company unveiled its new logo, a quartet of onions with the proclamation, "Four Generations of Family Pride."

The 26-year-old Mr. Watson is the fourth generation of his family to be part of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion industry, according to his father, Jon C. Watson.

"Brad is our new operations manager," Jon Watson told The Produce News April 3. He added that the year-round onion shipper, which has been a Trading Member of the Blue Book since 1929, would make good use of his son's technological education and expertise.

Brad Watson earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering form the University of Idaho, where he was on the dean's list and served as president of the university's American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Prior to joining J.C. Watson Co., Mr. Watson worked as a product engineer for Fabco Automotive Co., working with both customers and suppliers to develop new products for the heavy-equipment industry.

He also worked for Northrop Grumman Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory as a mechanical engineer, designing electronic surveillance components. In his new position, Mr. Watson will team closely with company President Marc Asumendi in analyzing production and operation efficiencies.

"In the short term, we will be looking at our irrigation design, controlling and monitoring input into crops with drip," Brad Watson said. "That leads to production efficiencies and helps monitor inputs for food safety."

Watson's own growing operations have 100 percent of its fields under drip, Jon Watson said.

To his son's comment that more automation is being integrated into shed operations, Jon Watson noted that the company has been automating the shed for several years to control labor costs as well as to improve sizing and sorting through electronics.

Regarding traceback, Mr. Asumendi said that J.C. Watson has implemented a program that covers "from seed purchase to planting, delivery to storage and sale to customers."

He added, "We have, through our software, traceability all the way through to our customers. Brad will focus on what will complement our present program to further ensure food safety and traceability with real-time response to our customers' needs."

Brad Watson added, "We are tying to the new produce traceability initiative and G10 numerical system and incorporating it into what we are now doing." "What Brad brings to the table is the ability to enhance our operations," Mr. Asumendi said. "We are meeting the challenges and embracing the changes in the produce industry."

In a prepared statement, Jon Watson had said he was "proud that our planning will let us continue meeting and exceeding customer expectations," and he told The Produce News, "We are fortunate to operate in a strong position financially, and we are in the position to make it through these trying times. We work with a very strong customer base as well as a very strong grower base, and we are truly fortunate to have Brad with us to work on our efficiencies."

For his part, Brad Watson said he sees himself "helping to lead this company into the future."

He described J.C. Watson as a company with a long history and "the ability to change with the times."