Change to the top management of the VOG Consortium

30 August 2019
There has been a changing of the guard in the management of VOG, the Consortium of South Tyrolean Fruit Growers’ Cooperatives, which brings together almost 5,000 members specialized in apple production. Today, 28 August 2019, at the “House of Apples” in Terlano, Gerhard Dichgans, who has been CEO of the VOG Consortium for 29 years, officially “passed the torch” to the new CEO, Walter Pardatscher.

The change formally took place on 1 August, at the start of the new sales season, and the handover was in fact decided last autumn, following a selection process by the Consortium’s top management. Dichgans will continue to oversee several projects for the Alto Adige Variety Innovation Consortium on behalf of VI.P Val Venosta and VOG in Terlano.

A determined, stubborn man with a deep knowledge of the sector and markets, Dichgans, who was born in 1952 and graduated in economics from the University of Fribourg, joined the large VOG family in 1985, first as an export manager then as Head of Sales, before his appointment as the Consortium’s CEO in 1990. During his time as CEO, he led major changes in the Consortium in terms of organization, assortment modernization, turnover growth and development of new markets. For the members of the Consortium, he always represented an important point of reference, partly thanks to his ability to work as a team player and to keep the management focused on strategic objectives. He was responsible for the introduction of the Marlene® brand with its unmistakable “blue sticker”, which distinguishes the quality of South Tyrol - Südtirol apples for all consumers.

“Clearly, I am proud of the goals achieved over the years,” comments Dichgans, “and I am especially pleased to pass on to my successor – to whom I naturally extend my best wishes – a company that is healthy and forward-looking, both in terms of turnover and of ongoing variety innovation projects. There are many new challenges and there is certainly all to play for with regard to international competitiveness. I arrived at VOG when the world was still divided by the Cold War, while today we talk about the global market. For many years, quality and service have been the right answers to market demands. They were the features that enabled us to stand out from our competitors. Today they have become an implicit prerequisite. The next decade will witness saturated markets, resulting in fierce competition between the standard apple varieties. There is consequently a need for new differentiation strategies. Opportunities certainly, if not exclusively, lie in brave variety innovation in order to occupy premium segments and market niches. And the key words, besides “quality” and “service”, will be “innovation” and “flavour”.”

The new CEO, Walter Pardatscher, aged 48, has been mainly known until now as chairman and CEO of Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A. However, his roots and part of his professional work are closely connected to the agricultural world and in particular to fruit growing. Growing up on his family’s farm, he attended the Agricultural Institute of Ora and subsequently graduated from the University of Trento and University of Innsbruck. In addition to being a freelancer, he joined several boards of directors in which he offered his knowledge and skills in engineering and business management. In the agricultural sector, from 1999 to 2005, Pardatscher served as chairman of the South Tyrolean Young Farmers Union. Since 1996 he has been a member of the board of directors of the Kurmark-Unifrut fruit cooperative, serving as chairman in the last three years. In this capacity he became a member of VOG’s Board of Directors. Walter Pardatscher is therefore an “insider” within the South Tyrolean fruit world, as well as an experienced CEO of large companies.

“The steps taken in recent years by Gerhard Dichgans for the development of VOG show us the direction for the coming years,” comments Pardatscher. “We will have to steer towards the future with renewed energy, unity and determination. We will continue to develop new varieties and to search for new markets and we expect to achieve major milestones in this direction within the next two years. It will be important for us to maintain this approach, while simultaneously looking to the many long-term challenges that lie ahead. There will inevitably be difficulties, but I am convinced that, partly thanks to the collaboration of all my staff, the VOG Consortium will continue to grow as a leading player in the apple sector.”

“When new top management is appointed to a company, it always marks the start of a new era,” comments Georg Kössler, Chairman of the VOG Consortium. “We are confident, knowing that the new CEO Walter Pardatscher will, on the one hand, strive to maintain necessary continuity with the past and, on the other, offer essential stimuli for future development. Both his experience in the sector and his managerial qualities will prove useful. We wish Walter Pardatscher the insight and courage and perseverance to lead VOG in agreement with its Board of Directors and associated cooperatives. All of us – chairmen, directors and associates – must support VOG’s new CEO with commitment and dedication. Finally, I would like to thank the outgoing CEO Gerhard Dichgans, on behalf of myself and the entire Board of Directors, for his valuable work, his untiring commitment and the objectives achieved, his exemplary dedication to identifying the best and most promising solutions, his loyalty, his managerial qualities and the spirit of collaboration that he has upheld over the years.”

"Gerhard Dichgans has shaped apple marketing and commercialization in South Tyrol over the last decades - Arnold Schuler, Province of Bolzano Agriculture Councillor, adds in conclusion - Now the appointment of Walter Pardatscher marks the start of a new age. The new CEO inherits a company that has been successfully structured and launched, but he will have to face a number of challenges.”

VOG Press Office

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