When current Southeast Produce Council President John Shuman of Shuman Produce Inc. in Reidsville, GA, turns over the gavel to new leadership at the SPC Fall show in Asheville, NC, it will be the first time in seven years he has been free of the burden of council leadership.
Not that he is happy about that. After terms on the board of directors, as secretary, vice president and finally president, the council has become an ingrained part of his life. Despite the late nights and early mornings, the meetings and conference calls that took him away from his own business, Mr. Shuman said his leadership role with the council was “never arduous. It’s been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I’m going to really miss being active on the board. I am going to roll out and be involved in committees andhave every plan and intention of staying very much involved. But I think I will enjoy the fall conferences and the spring expos a little more because I won’t be so busy.”
Under Mr. Shuman’s leadership, the council has continued to grow and prosper. Though he gives most of the credit for that to Executive Director Terry Vorhees and the rest of the executive committee, others give Mr. Shuman credit for helping to manage the council’s growth wisely. In fact, incoming President Andrew Scott has said he plans to follow Mr. Shuman’s lead as his own term at the top begins.
Then again, that is what Mr. Shuman did two years ago when he became president.
“When I took over from the previous president, Tom Page, I had been under his tutelage for two years and the SPC had experienced year-over-year growth and the tradeshows continued to sell out. Now I’ve been president for two years and that growth continues and the tradeshows continue to set attendance records,” Mr. Shuman said. “Those are just coincidences that would have occurred under anyone’s management, because I can tell you the council as a whole has tremendous momentum right now and as part of the management, part of the team, the key is to manage that growth well and I think that’s what SPC is best at doing.”
As has the rest of the elected leadership in the course of council history, Mr. Shuman credits Mr. Vorhees for the organization’s success.
“You just can’t say enough about Terry. He’s a workhorse and leader and he has done an outstanding job running this council and made my job very, very easy. He’s a first class person. He had a vision a long time ago and he is doing an outstanding job,” Mr. Shuman said.
“I travel the country a lot and you hear so many good things and positive things about the SPC and I think that’s directly related to the leadership and Terry. Everybody is complimentary — it’s a first-class organization and the tradeshow every year is the talk of the produce industry,” he added.
When Mr. Shuman walks away from the podium for the last time, it will “no doubt” be an emotional moment. “It’s been a pleasure and a blessing just to be part of it — I was member #101 — and part of the board and to support it over the years and I look forward to doing so in the future. I can’t even count the friends I’ve made and the business I’ve been blessed with through the organization. Board members are going to come and go, presidents are going to come and go. I’m just very blessed to have been a very small part of it.”