National Confectioners Association Appoints President

Downs succeeds retiring Graham as leader of candy group

John Downs National Confectioners Association NCA (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Candy)

John Downs

WASHINGTON -- The board of trustees of the National Confectioners Association (NCA) has appointed John H. Downs Jr. as president of the trade association, said Robert Simpson, NCA board chairman and COO of Jelly Belly Candy Co.

Downs, a senior advisor to the president of Coca-Cola Americas for The Coca-Cola Co., will succeed Lawrence T. Graham, who will have served the association for 22 years when he retires later this month.

"We are pleased to welcome John to the association," Simpson said. "John's strong leadership and record of accomplishments will serve our membership well. His public affairs background in the consumer product goods arena, coupled with his business acumen and experience with member-driven trade associations, provide him with a solid foundation for understanding the needs and capably serving the small, medium and large companies the NCA represents."

In his most recent position at Coca-Cola, Downs focused on strategic stakeholder engagement, government relations and public affairs in North America and Latin America. Before that, he was vice president of global government, diplomatic and stakeholder relations for Coca-Cola. He also previously served as the senior vice president of public affairs and communications for bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises. Downs has been with the Coca-Cola organization since 1986 when he joined the Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co. as a vice president. He has broad experience in public affairs, government relations, communications, association management, international affairs and corporate social responsibility.

Downs began his career in government relations as a legislative assistant to the Speaker of the House in Maryland before joining the Glass Packaging Institute and then the American Beverage Association, both national trade associations.

"John will be joining an organization with a strong foundation, and I want to personally extend my gratitude to Larry Graham for his leadership of the association," Simpson said. "The NCA enjoys a reputation for getting things done, for building relationships and for its professional staff, thanks in large part to the culture that Larry worked to establish. Both Larry and John are committed to a smooth transition as we look to the future."

Downs will assume the role as president of NCA in the summer of 2014. As the chief representative of the association, he will be responsible for managing both strategic direction and daily operations.

The 25-person office in Washington has an extensive public policy agenda; organizes the American confectionery industry's largest trade show, the Sweets & Snacks Expo; conducts both scientific and shopper research; has a well-established international marketing program for U.S.-made products; and serves as the primary voice for the chocolate, cocoa, non-chocolate and gum industries in the United States across a variety of audiences. The U.S confectionery industry employs 70,000 people and produces annual retail sales of $34 billion. The NCA has approximately 600 members.