Farewell letter from Bob Morrissey

It is hard to believe that 50+ years in the food industry have come to a close, and while it seems just yesterday that I was hired as a bagger & shopping cart kid at a Piggly Wiggly Store in Seekonk, Massachusetts, the years passed by, and here we are today. 
Like most kids in America, I had my sports idols (Carl Yazstremski, Bobby Orr, John Havlicek), but that all adjusted somewhat in adulthood when teachers and coaches (i.e., Zig Ziglar, Jack Welch, and Coach Bobby Bowden) provided learning lessons that helped to set a path forward for me.  Add to that my entry almost 25 years ago into agriculture, and I sought the best classroom in the world - the passenger seat of a grower’s truck.  Nothing provided a better MBA/Ph.D. than that seat and the grower driving the truck. 
When I first came aboard, the NWA was largely unknown on the national scene and was limited in its capabilities.  I was asked to take the NWA to the next level, and the blank slate we had to work from was very intriguing.  We would be able to create something that could last generationally, and so our adventure began with that vision.  We knew the competition was all around us, even in the association world, and we had to make a strong value statement – we had to create why companies should join the NWA. Our internal mantra helped us …… ‘to make positive differences in the livelihoods of our members.’  We went to work and pursued that mantra to the best of our abilities and capabilities!  Associations exist to seek solutions for our members.  That’s the power (and validation) of the NWA.” 
It was not easy, but nothing truly is, while we accomplished great things with the smallest staff among national & regional associations.  But, with an approach that followed the simplicity of the children’s cartoon, Thomas the Train …… ‘We were the little engine that could.’  We did more with less and elevated the NWA to new heights that none had dreamed of.  As a result, the NWA has a solid foundation of programs & services that your new leadership can build upon and change to adapt to our ever-changing world and create a newer, brighter future.  That excites me.        
As Jack Welch once said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate that vision, passionately owns that vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”  I wanted the best for our members and left nothing on the table.  Our Association is in a good place.  Now it is your turn to take what we’ve built to new heights and continue to beat the odds.  The only thing preventing you from doing so is your imagination and willingness to chase dreams, so take risks because the best things are on the other side.  This lil’ engine can climb that hill and the next one too.  Dream Big!    
It has been a whirlwind career from the grocery store industry to the premier category management firm to the association world.  With the best staff in the industry, the best partners at the convention, friends that are family, and my best friend (Betsy) supporting me every step of the way, there are not enough words to express my gratitude for this opportunity to serve you all.  It has been a ‘calling to serve’ and a blessing to which Jesus Christ led me.          
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  It has been my honor to serve you.  May the Good Lord bless you all.  Good luck, Farewell, and God Speed! 

Bob (and Betsy) Morrissey