BenchPress Profile: Kasey Cronquist

Since joining the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) in October 2007, Kasey Cronquist has spearheaded an aggressive public affairs program targeting lawmakers in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. He led a historic grower-exporter relations tour to Colombia, allowing growers to experience the production dynamics of California’s largest overseas competitor.

Be sure to check out Cronquist’s blog.

What are a couple of projects or initiatives you’ve tackled for CCFC of which you’re particularly proud?

“We organized that trip to Colombia and it was unique in that it hadn’t been done before by the commission. We decided this type of networking among industry people would be very important. We are a competitive industry, but there are also opportunities of cooperation and synergy that can be built. The trip to Colombia was an example of that.

“We wound up going down there and learning about their growing techniques, and I think one of the most impressive things our growers took away was the true scale of production that comes out of Colombia and seeing some of their sophisticated growing techniques. That was an eye-opening experience for the 14 growers who joined us. We also found an opportunity with our Flowers For Congress program.”

What exactly does the Flowers For Congress program entail?

“We found an opportunity to make sure our congressional delegation from California had a representation of some of the products being made in their district or state. It was obvious that flowers needed to be there, and we established this program to make sure it was within the new ethics guidelines while also making sure people know there’s this industry in California growing a beautiful product.”

How important is it to build a positive industry message based on what the economy has done over the last year?

“This is a time where we really need to pull up the bootstraps and find better ways to get the message out there so people are aware that flowers are an affordable luxury, or that California is America’s best source of cut flowers. We’re working diligently on that front to help provide that outreach and that communication so people recognize during this tough time that flowers are a product people can afford to give each other. It’s going to be increasingly more difficult for growers to be able to independently afford to do some of the things they may have done in the past. This is where a commission like ours can step up and fill that gap.”

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