The 2014 Western Candy Conference — which will be held on March 19-23 at the Westin Mission Hills resort located in Rancho Mirage, Calif. — promises to offer attendees a broad mix of informative and engaging speakers and presentations. Western Candy Conference Logo

Highlights include:

Craig Weber

Craig Weber, founder of The Weber Consulting Group, heads up an alliance of experts committed to helping people build work relationships, teams, and organizations that are more healthy, resilient and adaptive. He helps an eclectic range of clients improve their performance by treating dialogue as a discipline. His groundbreaking work is outlined in his highly acclaimed book, Conversational Capacity: The Key to Building Successful Teams That Perform When the Pressure is On.

Jeff Ray

Facing the media has always poses challenges for business owners and managers. Jeff Ray, a veteran media trainer who has taught hundreds of people over the past ten years how to appear calm and poised during a time of crisis, provides some personal insights from both sides of the camera.

As the spokesman for a state correctional department, Ray has helped guide his organization through a wide range of high-profile events — from inmate escapes to cases involving allegations of official misconduct. He also has helped plan and direct media coverage for two executions.

As an investigative reporter in Boise, Spokane, Portland, and Seattle, Ray was known for his pit bull style of interviewing newsmakers. The targets of his exposés included corrupt cops, dirty politicians, corporate polluters and the managers of wasteful governmental programs.

A recipient of broadcasting’s version of the Pulitzer Prize, the Alfred I. DuPont Silver Baton, the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award and three Emmys.

Ray’s presentation — Surviving the Circus: A crash course on media training — teaches professionals how to emerge as the ringmaster and not a clown during media scrutiny.

Larry Graham

Joining Ray and Weber on the program will be Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association. The Boston University School of Law graduate took over the NCA as president in 1992. In 2000, he founded the World Cocoa Foundation, a non-profit farmer outreach organization, and currently holds a seat on the Board. Graham will provide valuable insights and perspective on the U.S. confectionery industry.

Mike Rush

Capping of the program is Mike Rush, director of sales for YSA, a leading ingredient brokerage firm specializing in nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and chocolates. Rush will share the market updates from the largest ingredient suppliers, as well as strategic insights of how to improve buying strategies.

For information about the Western Candy Conference, visit, or email Greg Power at Helen Grace Chocolates (