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MONT-TREMBLANT, QC -- Surprised that he had not already received the honor, George Pitsikoulis, president of Canadawide Fruit Wholesalers Inc. and 2010-11 president of the Quebec Produce Marketing Association, officially named Leo Arsenault, whose storied career in the produce industry has most recently found him representing Quebec for the Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp., the 2011 Pillar of the Industry in Quebec at the Saturday, Aug. 20, closing banquet at the 64th annual QPMA Annual Convention, here.

Leo Arsenault

"I was shocked that his name was on the list of candidates that were still available," Mr. Pitsikoulis told The Produce News. "He worked within our family's business back in the early 1990s developing international deals. Knowing him for all these years and all of his involvement [in the industry] ... it was a no-brainer."

Sophie Perreault, executive director of the QPMA, added, "When you see pillar, you think of Leo."

Once the selection of Mr. Arsenault for the honor was made, which occurred in advance of the convention, he was invited to attend QPMA committee meetings. Ms. Perreault noted how fortuitous that was for the association because Mr. Arsenault participated actively and injected significant value and new ideas.

The closing banquet drew the largest crowd of the weekend with about 500 people in attendance. Robert Beauregard, who is in sales with Agri-Mondo Inc. and who is the 2011-12 incoming president of the QPMA, said that the convention provides excellent networking opportunities for industry members, noting that it is "a chance for the people in the industry to see each other without the pressure of pricing."

Ms. Perreault added, "When you come into the association, you remove your industry hat. We put a focus on what ties us together, not what pulls us apart." She said that the focus is on increasing consumption, a rising tide that lifts all boats.