The 123rd IARW-WFLO Convention & Expo in San Diego April 26-30 broke all attendance records and exhibitor counts, no doubt due to an extraordinary program and trade show that addressed important trends and developments affecting the industry.
However, topping the previous record attendance achieved at the New Orleans show a few years ago probably also had to do with a very special event that occurred on the night of April 25 at a ballroom in the Manchester Grand Hyatt. That’s when many friends and colleagues of retiring President and CEO Bill Hudson gathered to honor him for 33 years of continuous service to the organization. They convened to tip their hats during an extravaganza that featured hosting, roasting, joking and even a little justified boasting, as well toasting, dining and dancing. Proceeds from the affair are to benefit the Hudson Global Development Fund, which will provide micro-grants to individuals and small enterprises to enhance food production, post-harvest, or cold chain capacities.
Ray Tarnowski of Philadelphia Cold Storage and Jerome Scherer of United States Cold Storage especially rose to the occasion to fete Hudson, who while retiring, will remain in action as President and CEO Emeritus taking on important ambassadorial assignments for the organization around the world.
For readers who don’t know Hudson, this except from an interview conducted by the Global Chain Alliance for the organization’s house organ, Cold Facts, will provide a glimpse of the kind of man and leader is was and still is.
Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA): Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Bill Hudson: I was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas and went to College and Law School at Louisiana State University (LSU). I am married to Peggy Hudson who is from America’s most beautiful city, Charleston, South Carolina. Peggy has spent a career in the political world coming to DC as a caseworker for Senator Fritz Hollings and then working at some of this country’s most impressive associations and corporations as a business advocate. We have two children, Jocelyn, who works at the American Petroleum Institute in DC, and Zack who works in hospitality in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (smart kid!).
GCCA: How long did you serve as CEO of GCCA?
Bill Hudson: Thirty-three years. I began as Vice President of the IARW in 1982 and was promoted to President a year later. Before GCCA, I was VP of Government and Industry Affairs for the Travel Industry Association of America and before that I was legal council for the Door and Hardware Institute.
GCCA: What attracted you to IARW?
Bill Hudson: I knew of this well run association and its well-respected President, Dick Powell, and when the opportunity came to interview for the VP position I jumped at it! The other attributes that attracted me to IARW were the support and scope of its membership and its burgeoning international growth. When I came to IARW it held the international title and members in twelve countries, which was impressive for a US- based association at that time.
GCCA: How were you introduced to the refrigerated storage/transportation industry?
Bill Hudson: My primary introduction to this industry was through Dick Powell, my predecessor. Dick had served as IARW President for 26 years and was well versed in the leading figures and issues in the industry. I came to IARW from a very different industry and the food industry and refrigerated warehousing was very new to me. I learned quickly what member do and grew to respect that the first time I walked into a member facility.
GCCA: What would you say is your most rewarding experience working in this industry (internationally with GCCA or otherwise)? What has been one of your greatest professional accomplishments?
Bill Hudson: The most rewarding accomplishment in my career at GCCA is having built a global organization representing and serving members in sixty-seven countries. With each member and country we added, there was recognition that what we were doing could make a difference around the world. The education, food science and research meant so much to the new members as did the networking with other members.
GCCA: What is the greatest personal or professional obstacle that you have overcome?
Bill Hudson: I believe my greatest challenge at a much younger age was to focus my career. I majored in history in College and went to Law School when I didn’t know what to do with a history degree. I liked a great span of career paths and had no idea how I would choose one to pursue. To delay that decision I came to Washington DC at the urging of my brother who was Chief of Staff for a US Senator from Louisiana. He said he could get me a job on a Senate Committee. When I got to DC he said the job had been filled (Thanks Bro!), so I had to start the job search in DC. I fell into working with a trade association and haven’t looked back! I liked the scope of work and my first boss let me get into all aspects of association management; from membership, communications, meetings to the trade show. I really liked the diversity of the work and especially working with members. It is wonderful how small events, even those that at the time seem unfortunate, can shape your life. I didn’t get the job I drove to DC for, but I landed a career I have loved!
GCCA: What is your advice to companies and professionals who would like to contribute to the international growth of the cold chain industry?
Bill Hudson: Just like expanding a trade association globally you have to have a defined purpose and the patience and resources to survive many trials and setbacks. You have to invest the time to know the international aspect of the business and what it takes to enter a global market. You certainly have to respect the culture and unique business of any market.
GCCA: What advice would you give companies who would like to invest in the cold chain outside of their domestic market?
Bill Hudson: Do extreme due diligence. Select excellent partners as you move into a foreign country who can assist you in navigating local laws, finance, bureaucracy, customs and so much more. Use GCCA to help you understand what is involved and make the appropriate introductions. You are very fortunate to have an international trade association willing to assist. Call on the GCCA International Team to assist your global goals.