Miami — The record-breaking State of the Industry crowd bade NCA President Larry Graham a fond farewell during an afternoon business session as he prepares to retire following this year's Sweets & Snacks Expo.
In a video presentation, the past 10 Association chairman shared memories from their time working with Graham, discussing his strengths and the benefits he brought to the industry during his 22-year tenure.
On his watch, the industry ushered in the Sweets & Snacks Expo, which continues to grow year-on-year; the World Cocoa Foundation and the Confectionery Foundation were established; and the State of the Industry Conference has continually increased attendance.
In addition, a number of past chairmen touted his determination to better integrate the industry — including the broker and buyer communities — as a driving force of growth for the Association. When Graham first took the position, the NCA had some 120 members. It has since grown to more than 600.
Former NCA Chairman Sal Ferrara, CEO and chairman of Ferrara Candy Co., Inc., said: “We had a good organization before Larry arrived. Now we have a great Association. He has always resolved problems without making any. If you really know Larry, it is tough not to love him.”
During a brief speech after the tribute, Graham thanked the members for their support and deflected gratitude toward the NCA staff, noting all their efforts are focused solely on improving the industry.
“I had an old football coach who used to say, 'Don't be so humble; you're not that great,'” he joked, before saying: “The success I had is because every single one of those chairman put the industry first. I inherited a great Association. It made it a little easier to build on.”
Caption: NCA President Larry Graham address the State of the Industry Crowd following the video tribute feature the past 10 Association chairmen.