Spudman 7: Blair Richardson
Blair Richardson was born in Texas where his family has been involved in farming and ranching for many generations dating back to the era when the region was part of Mexico. He received a B.S. in agricultural economics with a secondary focus on business administration and finance from Texas A&M University.
Prior to becoming the U.S. Potato Board’s president and CEO, Richardson was the CEO for the combined entities of WesPak Sales and Enns Packing in Dinuba, California.
From 2002-2007 he served as the president of the California Tree Fruit Agreement. He was a founding member of the Coordinating Council for the Stewardship Index.
From 1989-1999 he worked for Calcot, a cotton marketing cooperative owned by select cotton producers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
He, his wife Marti, and their daughter Bryce, live in Denver.
What are the best words of advice you’ve received?
When I was about 26 years old, my boss, Bruce Groefsema, told me to always remember, It is not the fool who asks.” Then he told me to go think about that statement. It probably took me a few years to fully appreciate this advice and understand the depths and multiple meanings of that short statement, but I believe it is one of the smartest things anyone has ever told me.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
The next 12 months are going to be exceptionally busy with our efforts to listen to our industry members and develop the next long range plan for the USPB. In addition to this, we have significant issues facing our industry in terms of how potatoes are perceived by dietitians, nutritionists, policy makers and academics. We must get in front of the messaging about potatoes. And, we need to figure out how to create new consumers with the generations who are growing up reading about 9/11, dial telephones and typewriters instead of having experienced these things.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy spending time exploring restaurants and places with my wife and reading when possible. But, a nice evening by a fire pit is probably one of the most relaxing activities I can imagine.
What would you like to be your lasting legacy?
I hope to be remembered as a person who was pleasant to interact with and having made a positive impact on my family and the people around me.
What job or work would you have pursued if you had not become involved in the potato industry?
I became involved in the potato industry after 24 years of working in other sectors of agriculture. I would probably still be trying to figure out how to grow cherries in California if I had not accepted this challenge.
What are three things on your bucket list/must do list?
1) See my daughter graduate college and embark upon her future career.
2) Visit a few countries in Africa.
3) Live on an island in the Caribbean – at least for a few months.
4) See the Texas A&M football team win another national championship.
What is the one truth you have learned about the potato industry?
There are more opinions on any single issue than there are varieties of potatoes.”