Originally printed in the May 2020 issue of Produce Business magazine.
They say companies are only as strong as their weakest link; I do not believe there has been a time in my 22 years in business where this saying has been more appropriate.
As I write this today, I wish to acknowledge the courage and strength shown by my staff, who have, from day one of this pandemic, gone above and beyond whatever was asked or expected. They are the reason our business continues to operate, and why it continues to be able to provide for so many.
For weeks now, I have heard from many family, friends and acquaintances how ‘brave’ I am for continuing to head into work and put myself in harm’s way. I am uncomfortable every time I hear this, as the reality is that I am not the one on the front lines. The front-line workers are my drivers and dock workers, my quality control department and sales staff. They are each and every employee who shows up to work knowing that there is still a possibility of bringing the virus home to their families, despite every precaution.
The dedication of my staff is what allows us to continue to provide the fresh produce for which everyone is so thankful, maybe now more than ever.
As an industry, we have faced many challenges over the years. From adverse weather to weak economies and everything in between, the produce industry has seen it all and continues to adapt and overcome. It is an industry of resilience and perpetual hope.
As I reflect on where we have come from and what we have been through over the past few months, both as an industry and as a society, I am sad for all we have lost. That said, I am also cautiously optimistic that we will come through this unprecedented challenge stronger than before.
And while we will have many to thank for getting us through, I hope we will all remember the sacrifices made by individuals who we have taken for granted in many ways for far too long.
From the bottom of my heart, thanks to all the farm laborers, packing line workers, drivers, dock workers and all the others whose hard work has sometimes gone unnoticed, but without whom we could not keep food on our families’ tables.
And on a more personal note, thank you to my own staff for all you have done and all you continue to do. You are my heroes!
Larry Davidson is the CEO of North American Produce Buyers LTD, a buyer and wholesaler of international produce, operating out of the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto, Canada. He represents the third generation of the family business, which is more than 60 years old.