Jul 11, 2018
IRVING, TX – At USA Rice’s July Business Meeting General Session yesterday, Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice regional director for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, received a special award upon his retirement from USA Rice after 22 years of service.
Schmidt has been promoting U.S.-grown rice since 1996, and his portfolio consisted of more than one billion potential customers in Europe, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the Middle East, and Africa. USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward thanked Schmidt for playing a vital role for the U.S. industry by “keeping an ear to the ground and his eyes peeled, reporting both on problem areas that required attention and new opportunities for the industry.”
Ward singled out one such opportunity that has paid great dividends for the industry.
“Hartwig went to packagers of U.S. rice in the UK and the Middle East and asked them to help pay for USA Rice promotions in their markets,” she explained. “The program became enormously successful, which demonstrated to us and the U.S. government that the programs we were undertaking in those markets were valuable – so much so that the businesses were willing to invest their own money in the efforts. And getting them to have skin in the game ensures our efforts stay current.”
Another of Hartwig’s many accomplishments is that he almost single-handedly extended the life of USA Rice mascot Ricky Rice. Since 2006, Hartwig has used Ricky to brand U.S. rice around the globe. Ricky is so popular in Turkey, he has more followers on social media than traditional USA Rice accounts.
“We really do appreciate everything Hartwig has done for the U.S. rice industry,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “It was always a pleasure to work with him on difficult situations and on the occasional easy ones – they did happen from time to time. The U.S. rice industry today enjoys a stronger position and greater reputation overseas for his tireless work promoting U.S. rice.”
After receiving his award from none other than Ricky Rice, Hartwig said,” the proof that I have thoroughly enjoyed my work in the trade world was the fact that my original two-year assignment turned into a 22-year commitment.”