As an efficiency measure, the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association is consolidating some of the operations of the Plant Improvement Company it owns, and it has let the chief executive officer, John Kingsmill, go.
Instead, PICO board president and Summerland grower Keith Carlson will become the interim CEO for 2 1/2 years, during a transition period.
There was talk of moving the BCFGA offices to Summerland, into the PICO-owned offices, leaving leased premises in the B.C. Tree Fruits Co-operative building in Kelowna, but it was decided that paying rent to the BCTFC also keeps that money in the industry, so there really aren’t any cost-savings there, explained Glen Lucas, general manager of the BCFGA.
The two organizations will use only one auditor and the same bank, he said, as part of the streamlining of operations. “We’ll work cooperatively,” he said.
Lucas will spend some time at the PICO offices, looking after administrative functions for PICO, while Carlson looks after the business development side of things, including servicing international and domestic clients.
BCFGA president Jeet Dukhia said the operation of the two organizations will remain independent while sharing office space and staff time.
“There changes are being driven by cost reduction and efficiency gains mandated by the BCFGA board.
“While PICO is profitable, we want to ensure it has the greatest possible benefit for B.C. and Canadian growers, as well as be efficient,” he said.
“Keith and the board agree that his CEO duties will help in a transition to new management, over the course of the next two years,” said Nirmal Dhaliwal, who was promoted to Acting Chairman of PICO when Carlson stepped aside as chairman to take on the CEO duties.
“My focus will be on business development and client satisfaction,” said Carlson.
PICO was established in 1993 to provide a service to the owners of Plant Breeders’ Rights, a form of ownership of newly-developed varieties of plants.
PICO administers technical, legal and contractual items for the owners of the new varieties and assists in ensuring the commercial success of promising new varieties of tree fruits and berries within the context of a Canada First policy.
It also operates a budwood orchard that provides growers with true-to-type, virus-indexed budwood for grafting and supports scientific research and development in support of the tree fruit industry.
PICO is currently the agent for some of the most successful new tree fruit varieties in the world, including the Ambrosia apple and Staccato cherry.
PICO is also agent for promising new varieties such as the Salish apple, which was released in 2012, and the Sentennial cherry variety.
The BCFGA is an agriculture commodity organization with a declining membership of 550 commercial tree fruit growers in B.C. It celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2014.