WAFARMERS grains council president Derek Clauson believes Neil Wandel will have many challenges ahead of him in his new role as CBH chairman.
The bulk handler announced last week that Mr Wandel had been nominated as chairman-elect after a mid-week board meeting.
The decision came after chairman Tony Critch recently announced he would retire from the board in 2008, the end of his term.
Mr Wandel has served on the board since 2002 and is currently deputy chairman.
It is understood popular Albany Zone board member Wally Newman also put up his hand for the leadership role before losing in a secret ballot.
Mr Wandel said he was honoured by being elected by his peers and he looked forward to serving WA's growers.
His election will be formalised at CBH's 2008 annual general meeting in Merredin to launch 75-year anniversary celebrations.
Mr Clauson said based on what his grains council members were telling him, Mr Wandel had some serious challenges to overcome.
"All CBH directors have put their hand up to be a director in a co-operative," Mr Clauson said.
"With new leadership coming up next year, the challenge for Mr Wandel is to focus on delivering value to members through improved services and low pricing, wherever possible.
"I believe most growers feel CBH has diverted from their core business and we are not seeing the real returns from investments that were foreshadowed, like the Asian flour milling operations.
"I think that with the focus that CBH have put on bringing down single desk marketing in Australia, growers are wondering if we are getting the sort of value and service that we deserve out of our co-operative.
"I wish Mr Wandel all the success in getting his team's eye back on the ball and in returning value back to growers."
Mr Wandel said Mr Critch, who served on the board for 18 years, with two as chairman, had shown incredible commitment and dedication to WA growers and had demonstrated a very clear passion for the industry.
"As chairman, Mr Critch has shown great leadership, integrity and courage in helping to develop the company into the well established and strong organisation that it is today," Mr Wandel said.
"He has certainly left some pretty hard shoes to fill and I look forward to working with the board in continuing to steer the company forward throughout the challenges of the future."
The Pastoralists and Graziers Association welcomed Mr Wandel's nomination.
PGA Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley said among the imminent deregulation of the wheat export regime, and the review of the Grains Licensing Authority, CBH would be faced with a new and more dynamic market environment.
"First and foremost the CBH board must take a positive stance on structural reform and begin the process of demutualisation," Mr Bradley said.
"Mr Wandel's business background and farming experience makes him an ideal successor to Mr Critch."