AFTER saying farewell to Apple and Pear Australia Limited CEO Jon Durham, Granite Belt growers have met the man stepping up to fill his shoes in the top job.
Described by one grower as an "impressive individual", new APAL CEO John Dollisson spent two days in Stanthorpe last week to gauge the major issues affecting the local farming community.
The Melbourne-based marketing specialist has spent much of his first few months in the role travelling the country's growing areas, and has quickly learnt the intricacies of each region.
With a background in advertising, Mr Dollisson may be new to the apple and pear industry, but he is quickly learning the ins-and-outs.
"You can sit in an office in Melbourne all you like, but you're not going to know the issues," he said.
"You can't look at every area and assume it's the same.
"Every region has a different climate, different soil, different issues."
Pozieres grower Ugo Tomasel wasted no time in highlighting some of the major challenges for Granite Belt growers - namely soil quality and the availability of water.
Mr Dollisson said he hoped to put these issues in the national spotlight.
"These are issues we need to bring to Barnaby Joyce," he said.
"We need to get them high on the political agenda."
A former APAL director, Mr Tomasel said it was important for local growers to have a good working relationship with the organisation and its CEO.
"APAL certainly plays a very important role for the industry," he said.
"It's crucial that we have someone enthusiastic and intelligent in that role.
"It's good if growers have an issue and they can just ring him up."
Mr Dollisson said he looked forward to representing farmers, who he said were "such an important part of the community".
The marketing specialist said he also hoped to explore new marketing opportunities for Australian products, with a view to tap into existing Asian markets.