Tea Association of the USA, US Tea Association, Tea Council, STI, Joe Simrany, Peter Goggi, tea, tea news, tea industry
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A Day in My Shoes
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Episode 8, Part 1 - A Day in My Shoes - Tea Assoc of USA

Monday, April 29th 2013 @ 12:00 AM

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A Day in My Shoes–Episode 8, Pt 1A
Tea Association of the USA

 

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Welcome to A Day in My Shoes – a blog and sometimes vlog as The Tea House Times publisher, Gail Gastelu, puts herself in another person’s shoes for the day – going behind the scenes in the tea industry!  If you are just joining us, go to the Archived entries in the left column to catch up - beginning with January 2013.  OR

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Next week: An Outtake "From the Desk of"...Joe Simrany
Two weeks: Peter Goggi & US Tea Assoc Staff
Three weeks: An Outtake "From the Desk of"...Peter Goggi

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EPISODE 8, PART 1A - MARCH 19, 2013
If you have not yet guessed it, I spent the day in the shoes of Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Association of the USA and Peter Goggi, Executive Vice President.  Joe will be retiring as of January 2014 and Peter will be his successor.  Not only was this my first day in a tea industry executive’s shoes (other than my own), but a day in the shoes of two men!  I asked the dress code for their office and was told pretty much business casual. They jokingly told me that it would be Black Tie Tuesday when I was scheduled to visit. So – guess what I wore!  Not formal black tie, but yes, a cute black tie with teapots! We had a few minutes of fun, but don’t think for one moment that we did not have a serious and productive day…

So I asked the guys about their routine. Joe and Peter arrive to their offices quite early in the day to catch people globally - this allows them to connect with people and catch them during their normal business hours in other countries and get a jump on the day here in the US.  Joe takes the bus and Peter takes the train. I opted to stay in my comfort zone, parked on the Jersey side and took the ferry over the Hudson River and hopped on one of the ferry buses which dropped me off less than one block away from their offices.  Under perfect conditions, I can get from northern NJ into New York City in just under an hour. But during normal commuter hours, it can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours with traffic. In bad weather it takes the longest…..

It was a rainy day, so I allowed myself 2.5 hours for the commute and it took me 2 hours and 20 minutes door to door.  What a morning, lugging my camera, and… those lucky devils got some of my home baked shortbread too, so I was lugging that along and trying to keep everything dry. 

I like the fact that I have now visited their offices and can visualize what it is like there. It is a nice office suite in New York City and everyone has his or her own office space. It is not glamorous, but comfortable, clean, neat and pretty spacious by NY standards.  People are always wondering why their office is IN NYC, and the answer is really quite simple – it is a very convenient place for people visiting from outside the country and a familiar and relatively easy location to get to for those of us already in the States.

Over the years I have experienced a feeling that many people in the tea industry are unsure what goes on at the US Tea Assoc, what they do, why and how.  There are a lot of different and very important things going on in their office. I have spent time with Joe over the years and have always tried to understand best what they do since, as press, I need a clear understanding of everything they share with me, so I can accurately present facts on their behalf.   I hope that through my eyes and their shoes, this blog will shed some light and better appreciation for everything they do for the tea industry.  That said, this will be several parts in the making and I have also prepared two short videos “From the Desk of”  …Joe …and also Peter to be aired soon. 

The Tea Association of the USA, the Tea Council of the USA, Inc. and the Specialty Tea Institute (STI) work together to communicate the many attributes of tea to consumers.  The organization tracks trends, disseminates information, and represents the interests of the wholesale and retail tea industry on a broad spectrum of issues. 

OK, so first up, I placed myself into Joe’s shoes to learn more about him, his accomplishments and what he has been doing for the tea industry over the last 21 years. 

Joe Simrany joined the Tea Association of the USA in February of 1991 after 25 years in the bakery industry as a marketer for Nabisco and Sunshine Biscuits.  Upon Joe’s entry into the tea industry, roles were combined and he became the first full time executive to run both the Tea Association and the Tea Council.  In this position, he has faced many challenges and numerous successes.  In the 21 years that Joe has been involved with tea, the USA Tea Industry has grown from under $2 billion to over $8 billion in retail sales.  Further, the USA is now the 2nd largest tea importing country in the world (Russia is #1) and the 6th largest tea consuming country following China, India, Russian Federation, Turkey, and Japan.  One of the drivers of increased consumption in the US was Joe’s efforts to associate tea consumption with the great many health benefits of tea as a means of raising consumer awareness and revitalizing an otherwise dull performance for the tea industry in the USA. 

As I mentioned, Joe will be retiring and will be honored during a black tie dinner at the North American Tea Conference set to take place this September in Bermuda – I will tell you more about that event later.

Now, I would like to list some of Joe’s accomplishments since this list is the best way to share what really goes on at the Tea Association of the USA and how they go about representing the interests of the tea industry.

Other accomplishments include the establishment of Hot Tea Month in January and Iced Tea Month in June as a means to generate publicity and provide members with a themed promotional event. 

In 2002, the Tea Association of the USA and the Tea Council of the USA were merged to achieve a more equitable funding for both organizations and focus the Tea Council’s generic promotion program by consolidating separate efforts into a concerted effort on Tea & Health.

Joe successfully broadened the mission of the Tea Association by establishing a separate Association for Specialty Tea Retailers. He formed the Specialty Tea Registry in 1996 which eventually merged with the American Premium Tea Institute in 2002 to form the Specialty Tea Institute, an organization specifically created to support the development of the Specialty Tea Industry and educate its members.

Joe has successfully defended the Tea Industry concerning numerous, and sometimes threatening issues.

He is currently cooperating with counterparts in Canada and Australia to adopt common MRL’s for specific substances while concurrently working as part of an FAO Working Group trying to get the world’s regulatory authorities to harmonize chemical standards. He also launched the Agricultural Plant Protection initiative into international forums to focus producing countries on the proper use of these substances, as well as organizing a meeting in Paris for 12 of the world’s regulatory agencies seeking further harmonization of standards for tea.

He supported the Nepalese concept of a Uniform Code of Conduct for the Tea Industry and remains a staunch advocate for expansion of that concept globally.

He launched a PR campaign to attract a younger audience to tea by inviting them to submit a YouTube video about the Health benefits of tea under the Calm-A-Sutra theme.

Joe was nominated to Chair the London Tea Trade Dinner in May 2010 and to deliver the keynote speech. This was the first time in its 81 year history that a non-British Tea Trade Executive was so honored.

He was elected First Vice Chairperson of the 19th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on tea meeting in May of 2010 in New Delhi, India. Assumed the role of Chairman for the majority of the meeting after the local government official opened the meeting. The FAO is a committee of the United Nations dedicated to helping producing countries to prosper. The meeting was attended by 96 delegates and 11 observers and FAO Secretariat personnel representing 20 countries.

Joe is a Director of the International Tea Committee in London and an avid spokesperson for the global tea industry. He frequently represents the USA tea industry at foreign conferences where he shares the strategies that have catapulted tea to new heights of popularity in the US. He was recently appointed an honorary Ambassador of China Tea by the Organizing Committee of the 2011 International Tea Convention in Hangzhou, China.

Joe organized a pesticide Summit Meeting in Seattle, Washington in 2012 as a means to more fully involve the Tea Association Membership in important regulatory issues.

Another such meeting was planned by Joe and Peter for Los Angeles this year.

Joe has been a tireless supporter of tea wherever he goes, and is its biggest fan.

He will be sorely missed by the industry, but I have a funny feeling we will be seeing him around.

Next week I will spend a day in Peter Goggi’s shoes and other department heads of the Tea Association of the USA.  Stay tuned. . .

 

Next week: An Outtake "From the Desk of"... Joe Simrany

Two weeks: Peter Goggi & US Tea Assoc Staff

Three weeks: An Outtake "From the Desk of"...Peter Goggi

 

 

     

 

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