Plenty of networking opportunities await delegates to the 65th annual Quebec Produce Marketing Association’s convention Aug. 16-18 at the Hilton Lac-Leamy.

QPMA event cultivates next generation“Our conventions are known as more of a social event, and we want to keep it fun, with lots of time for networking,” said convention chairman Dino Farrese, executive vice president of Boucherville-based produce broker Bellemont Powell.

“At the same time, we’re looking for ways to offer more of a professional or business-related focus,” Farrese said, “starting with the new product showcase.”

So many companies have shown interest in promoting their products in this first-time endeavor, he predicts there will be a waiting list.

To reinforce the convention’s theme, Cultivating the Next Generation, QPMA has invited Michel Grenier, a leading coach for young entrepreneurs at the University of Quebec in Montreal, to discuss the importance of implementing a succession plan early.

“We want to give our members tools that will help them decide what to do with their own business,” Farrese said.

The second guest speaker, Dany Dubé, is a broadcaster and coach best known as the play-by-play announcer for Montreal Canadiens hockey games. The title of his speech is “Managing is Coaching.”

Delegates will be welcomed officially Aug. 16 by outgoing QPMA president Robert Beauregard and his wife Denise Ross along with Farrese and his wife Mariejosé Lacaille.

Then the fun begins.

Those who choose a game of golf on the Hautes Plaines course Friday will find challenging tree-lined fairways and a view across the river to Ottawa.

Others will take a wet ride through the biggest rapids on the Ottawa River in white-water rafts.

A third group will tour downtown Ottawa by bus and visit the Parliament buildings.

“It’s a chance for U.S. visitors, in particular, to see how our federal government differs from the American system,” Farrese said.

For Friday night’s Mardi Gras carnival, guests are encouraged to show their colors and dress any way they like, from casual to extravagant.

Farrese said the evening’s DJ, YO-C, originally from Montreal, is a regular at parties hosted by Hollywood celebrities.

The closing banquet will pay tribute to Nelson Lachance, this year’s Pillar of the Quebec produce industry, and end with a rousing rendition of hits from the 70s with Sylvain Cossette.