The word "centennial" conveys special meaning in the world; after all, 100 years of existence signifies more than the simple ability to endure the passing of years, even decades. A centennial imparts a certain sense of permanence, of having come full circle and of having experienced all there is within a time frame that encompasses almost all that could conceivably happen. "I've seen it all before," as the saying goes.
-- from railroads to retailers -- should today include them all as allied partners reflects a level of wisdom and insight that only comes with experience, often gained during difficult, tumultuous times.
It might not seem so ironic, then, that United is choosing to focus its energies on the next 100 years. Anyone in the produce business, from grower to buyer to seller, is quick to say there's still much work to do and more challenges on the horizon. The organization, founded in Chicago in 1904, has indeed traveled full circle, in that its centennial Produce Expo & Conference has brought United back to its birthplace, with new partners in the Food Marketing Institute, Organic Trade Association and the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. The combination of these shows is a testament to the universal presence of produce in all aspects of the American diet, as well as a measure of how important the category is to the success of all food industry segments, especially supermarkets.
The show itself reserves some time for commemorating past achievements, particularly with a Centennial Celebration Gala at Chicago's historic Union Station. However, the emphasis on the show floor, and in the seminars and keynote addresses, remains squarely on the future -- a sign that United is already deeply committed to its next century of service.