(Grower of the Year Awards presentation by PGI)
Idaho Potato Commission
Frank Muir was appointed President and CEO for the Idaho Potato Commission in 2003. Muir is leading Idaho’s effort in expanding its “Famous Potatoes” throughout the world via aggressive marketing strategies including creative advertising, public relations and social media. He is regularly interviewed by the media and has been the potato’s most faithful defender. He received a Master’s Degree, with highest honors in Business Administration from Brigham Young University. His marketing career began at General Mills Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he successfully managed several consumer products under the Betty Crocker, Nature Valley and Big G cereal brand names. More recently, he was Vice President and General Manager at ConAgra Foods, Irvine, California. He successfully led major turnaround strategies for several national and regional brands and led acquisition teams for several companies and brands.
Frank will speak on the following:
- Introduce three New Commissioners
- Update on Marketing Programs and TV advertising
- Big Idaho Potato Truck Tour
- Update on Lamb Weston “Grown In Idaho” frozen line
- Expanding Social Media Programs
- Public Relation Events
- Retail and Foodservice Programs
- International Expansion
- Economic Impact Study: Optimization Group
- Revised Redistricting Proposal
President & CEO
Blair Richardson was born in Texas where his family has been involved in farming and since the region was part of Mexico. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1989 and moved to California where he spent 24 years involved in California agriculture. This included time at organizations with business activities in the cotton, almond and fresh fruit industries.
Blair has been involved in the produce industry for the past 17 years, beginning with the California Tree Fruit Agreement in 2002. After five years as president of this industry association, Richardson returned to the private sector to manage a 1,200 acre farming/packing/sales company with products ranging from peaches and apricots to plums, citrus and grapes. As the CEO for Potatoes USA, Blair has now been part of the potato industry for the past six years where he challenges everyone involved to continually think differently about how we promote potatoes. He also owns a small cherry farm in Sanger, California.
Blair has served on numerous industry boards including the United Fresh Foundation Board, the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), the Produce Marketing Association’s Foundation for Industry Talent, the California Minor Crops Council board, the Alliance for Food and Farming, the Alliance for Potato Research and Education and others.
Chief Executive Officer
National Potato Council
Kam Quarles is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Potato Council. He assumed this role in May of 2019 after having previously served as Vice President of Public Policy and Communications since December of 2016
Prior to joining the Council staff, Kam worked for seven years as the lead agriculture lobbyist for the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery. In addition to the National Potato Council, Kam’s clients included the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Sunkist Growers, Chiquita Brands International, the California Avocado Commission and other specialty crop interests.
He also previously served as vice president for the United Fresh Produce Association and vice president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Before joining these trade associations, Kam was the managing director of the Washington, D.C., office for Sunkist Growers farmer cooperative, the world’s largest citrus marketing organization. He has also served as a staff member in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Mr. Quarles holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Southern California and a Master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University in Virginia.
He and his wife Karen live on Capitol Hill with their fourteen year-old daughter Cate.
Industry Relations Director
Idaho Potato Commission
Travis was born on Halloween in Twin Falls, Idaho. A few years later, his family moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming where he grew up. He graduated from Rock Springs High School and shortly after that he served a mission for the LDS Church in Oakland California. After his mission, he started college. He attended RICKS College in Rexburg Idaho and graduated with an Associates Degree in Arts and Sciences. Then he finished his schooling at Idaho State University and graduated with his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Management. During college, he met his wife Dana and now has enjoyed 20+ years together. They have 3 children: 2 boys, Cory and Alex who are 22 and 16; and one girl, Ellie who is 13. They currently reside in Rexburg Idaho.
Travis has been in the Potato Industry for almost 25 years. It all started with a job sorting potatoes and stacking boxes at Sun Glo of Idaho, Inc. in Sugar City Idaho. Then he started moving up into positions like Forklift Driver and Shift Supervisor. Other positions included Warehouse Supervisor, R&D Manager and Customer Service Manager and then Supply Chain Manager for Dickinson Frozen Foods. This job entailed purchasing, transportation and inventory control. In June 2008 he started with the Idaho Grower Shippers Association (IGSA) and served there for 4 years as President. Currently, he works for the Idaho Potato Commission as Industry Relations Director and loves every minute of it. His hobbies include fly fishing, golfing, mountain biking and of course spending time with the family.
Dr. Michael Thornton
Dr. Mike Thornton is a professor of plant science working on potatoes for the University of Idaho at the Parma Research and Extension Center. His research program focuses on sustainable production of new varieties, management of in-season pest problems, and reduction of losses during storage. Mike will speak on ways to reduce bruising during harvest and handling into storage.
Dr. Nora Olsen
Dr. Nora Olsen is a professor of plant science and potato specialist with the University of Idaho at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center. Her research and extension program have focused on potato field and storage management, sprout and disease control, seed physiology and performance, harvest and handling management, and cultivar evaluations. Her presentation will cover practices to minimize quality reductions in storage, packing and delivery to customers.
There is no cost to register. Your registration will be used to ensure we properly accommodate all attendees.