By JOHN O'CONNELL
U.S. Potato Board President and CEO Tim O'Connor will leave his post to head a new marketing agency dedicated to promoting the Mexican avocado industry, according to a March 8 USPB announcement.
O'Connor has headed USPB for 14 years. He'll assume his new position with Avocados from Mexico, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mexican Hass Avocado Import Association, effective April 1. The marketing group was formed to aid in industry advertising, promotion, public relations and research. It will be jointly funded by MHAIA and Mexican Avocado Producers and Packers.
USPB, based in Denver, serves as the nation's potato marketing organization. Mexico is the leading supplier of fresh avocados in the U.S.
"It took a fabulous career opportunity to pull me away. Building AFM from scratch and developing a new marketing strategy and programs for Avocados from Mexico is exactly that incredible opportunity," O'Connor said in a press release.
Adrian Iturbide Mehia, chairman of MHAIA, said in a press release O'Connor has the experience needed to develop strategies that will increase demand and consumption for Mexican avocados.
"Creating AFM is one of the most important decisions the Mexican avocado industry has made since we began promoting avocados in the United States in 1997. We conducted a nationwide search for our CEO to ensure we found the most qualified person, and we are very pleased and fortunate to have found Tim," Mehia said.
American Falls, Idaho, potato grower Klaren Koompin believes O'Connor's departure will be a loss to the potato industry.
"He was excellent. He took the board to a new level. We were fortunate to keep him as long as we did," Koompin said.