Marketing VP Talks Solutions to Labor Issue in Washington, DC
Mac Riggan has been successful in the produce industry by following the motto: “Keep it simple.” As Director of Marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, he’s weathered the ups and downs and emerged as vocal advocate for industry issues.
Mac was an enthusiastic participant in this past year’s United Washington Public Policy Conference (WPPC), where he spoke up on the “most important issue to the fresh produce industry” - labor. He supports a practical guest worker program, and aims to work towards that goal by educating the opposition. “This year at WPPC we visited with our allies who understand why this is so important. And next time, I hope to visit more offices of those who vote against reform and explain to them how it can benefit them as well,” he said. “WPPC provides an important opportunity to let folks on the Hill know what is going on in the fields, and we need to keep telling the story of how the guest program works because it’s a win for consumers, a win for growers and a win for the workers.”
Mac has seen the impact of labor shortages firsthand in the Pacific Northwest. After college in Seattle, he returned to Wenatchee and started working in produce sales in 1990. Through several mergers, he continually brought in new business and ensured that the company remained competitive in a changing landscape. “Our business is relatively simple,” he explained. His father, Bob Riggan, who had over 30 years experience in the produce industry as a grower, warehouse manager and owner of a fruit, sales and marketing company before his retirement in 2004, gave Mac some advice: “When I first started, my dad told me to always tell the truth and admit your mistakes as soon as you know about them. Those two things have probably helped me as much in my career as anything.” Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s the simple act of acknowledging and correcting them that makes the defining difference, according to Mac. “Trust is everything.”
Chelan Fresh also has an eye on food safety legislation, echoing the concerns of many in the industry that the new rules may be costly for fruit and vegetable growers. Regardless, Mac sees the strength in working with numbers and being a member of United Fresh. “We really appreciate what United is doing, being on the right track and helping the industry to navigate the waters around these issues, whether it is labor or food safety.”