The U.S. Potato Board, the nation's potato marketing organization and the central organizing force in implementing programs that will increase demand for potatoes, named produce industry veteran Blair Richardson as its president and chief executive officer, effective Aug. 1.
Over the past four years, Richardson served as CEO for the combined entities of WesPak Sales Inc. and Enns Packing Inc., located in Dinuba, CA, as he assistedthe owners of the 110-year-old business in a transition through their generational gap. Through that process, Richardson also facilitated a corporate merger and acquisition of the operations by a group, including the owners of Rivermaid Trading Co., in 2012. During the spring and summer of 2013, Richardson then facilitated a second merger of operations between WesPak and Precision Produce.
Born in Texas where his family has been involved in farming and ranching for many generations, dating back to the era when the region was still part of Mexico, Richardson attended Texas A&M University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics with a secondary focus on business administration and finance.
Richardson moved into the produce industry 11 years ago when he became president of the California Tree Fruit Agreement in 2002. After five years at CTFA, Richardson joined FreshSense, where he was responsible for rebranding the “Ripe n Ready” brand and building a new eco-label for growers participating in a new sustainable farming certification program. The resulting “Zeal” brand launched successfully in 2008 and remains a leading brand in the marketplace for stone fruit and citrus produced under strict sustainable growing practices certified by Protected Harvest.
A founding member of the coordinating council for the Stewardship Index, which is working to develop a tool for all specialty agriculture farmers and companies to use for measuring sustainability, Richardson has served on numerous industry boards, including the Produce for Better Health Foundation financial advisory committee, the PBH executive committee, the Produce Marketing Association's Foundation for Industry Talent and the California Minor Crops Council board.
Richardson lives on a cherry farm and horse ranch with his wife, Marti, and daughter, Bryce, located east of Fresno, CA, near the entrance to Sequoia National Park.