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Western Growers does heavy lifting for ag industry

Dave Puglia recalls being encouraged by Ken Khachigian, former speechwriter to President Reagan, to call Tom Nassif at Western Growers Association about a job opportunity. Puglia was not looking for a change and admits he knew very little about agriculture at the time. What he knew about the association led him to believe the conversation would be a short one.

Puglia’s met Khachigian early in his career as a political consultant in Sacramento, Calif. Both were consultants to various people and organizations and by 2005 Khachigian was consulting with Western Growers. Puglia was a Sacramento lobbyist, working with financial services firms, insurance companies, and others outside of agriculture.

“I was in a consulting business at the time and was having a good time and really enjoyed it,” Puglia said.

Nassif was looking for someone to lead the organization’s lobbying efforts. Puglia initially did not want to be that person because of concerns that trade associations can be risk-averse and cash poor. Over time he learned that Western Growers was not merely a trade association dependent solely upon membership dues or the whims of a board; Western Growers, it seemed, had a different business model while still working to serve farmers in much the same way as the other trade associations.

Out of those conversations with Nassif and a former board member, Puglia was to run the organization’s lobbying efforts. Last…

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