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President of CMI Bob Mast awarded 2023 Apple Citizen of the Year

The Washington State Apple Blossom Festival announced on March 17 that Bob Mast, president of CMI Orchards, is being recognized as the 2023 Apple Citizen of the Year. The award was bestowed in a surprise presentation by Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson, along with Apple Blossom Queen Scarlette Cron and Princesses Natalie Pearson and Dylan Schmitten.

The Apple Citizen of the Year award is chosen by leaders of the industry and past recipients of the award. Since 1981, this award has honored the roots of the fruit industry, as well as the leaders that make Wenatchee Valley the Apple Capital of the World.

Mast grew up in Phoenix, AZ, graduating from Arizona State University with a double major in business management and marketing. Mast worked multiple jobs while completing his degree and turned his high-energy work ethic into a successful career. He served as a produce manager, regional supervisor, buyer, category manager, and assistant director for Fry’s Food stores in Arizona. This retail experience and his desire to spotlight produce in exciting and creative ways, lent him valuable insight when he moved to the supply side in 2003. Recognizing the fantastic opportunity to apply his in-depth knowledge of retail to the supply side of business, he took a leap of faith and moved to the Wenatchee Valley with his wife, Sabrina, in 2003, joining CMI Orchards as director of marketing.

Over the past two decades at CMI, Mast was promoted to vice president of marketing and eventually, in 2013, president — a perfect position for a natural-born leader with spectacular initiative and a passion for produce. So passionate, in fact, that he was not content experiencing the industry solely from an office desk and wanted to get his feet dirty on the growing side. Mast’s retail experience, mastery of fruit sales and marketing, and hands-on growing experience all give him a unique perspective and invaluable expertise.  

As president of CMI, Mast ushered in an age of unprecedented growth. Proprietary varieties grew from three to 11, including Ambrosia Gold, KIKU, Envy, Jazz, SugarBee, Sunrise Magic, Cosmic Crisp, Smitten, Kanzi, EverCrisp and Skylar Rae cherries. He led his team in introducing apple retail displays that shipped with fruit. Other first-to-market innovations included the Sweet to Tart meter, which evolved into CMI’s latest educational tasting tool for apples, Flavogram. During this time, the company expanded from six warehouses to 11. In 2013, CMI sold roughly 11.7 million boxes, and the company is projecting to sell over 18 million boxes this coming season.

Mast has served on the board of directors for the Washington Apple Commission for eight years, and continues to show his dedication to the industry as a Trustee for USApple, and a past chairman and current member of the Washington Apple Education Foundation board of directors.

Mast will additionally be honored at the All Service Club & Community Luncheon on May 3 and the Stemilt Grand Parade on May 6.

Photo: Mike Wade, Todd Fryover, Bob Mast, Jennifer Witherbee and Bryon McDougall

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