Mar 23, 2023CMI Orchards’ Bob Mast named Apple Citizen of the Year
Bob Mast, president of CMI Orchards, is being recognized as the 2023 Apple Citizen of the Year by the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival.
The Apple Citizen of the Year award is chosen by leaders of the industry and past recipients of the award. Since 1981, the award has honored the roots of the fruit industry, as well as the leaders that make Wenatchee Valley the Apple Capital of the World.
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.
Mast grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, 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.
Mast served as a produce manager, regional supervisor, buyer, category manager, and assistant director for Fry’s Food stores in Arizona. His retail experience and his desire to spotlight produce in exciting and creative ways gave him insight when he moved to the supply side in 2003, according to a news release. In 2003, Mast recognized the opportunity to apply his retail knowledge to the supply side of business and moved with his wife Sabrina to the Wenatchee Valley, joining CMI Orchards as director of marketing.
Over the past two decades at CMI, Mast was promoted to vice president of marketing and in 2013, president. It was “a perfect position for a natural-born leader with spectacular initiative and a passion for produce,” according to the news release. “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 CMI president, Mast ushered in an age of unprecedented growth. Proprietary varieties grew from three to eleven, including Cosmic Crisp, EverCrisp, Kanzi, Smitten, Ambrosia Gold, KIKU, Envy, Jazz and SugarBee apples and Skylar Rae cherries.
Mast led his team in introducing the first apple retail displays that shipped with fruit. Other 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 more than 18 million boxes this coming season, according to the release.
For eight years, Mast was on the board of directors for the Washington Apple Commission and continues his industry dedication by serving as a trustee for USApple and a past chairman and current member of the Washington Apple Education Foundation’s board.
Mast and his family live in East Wenatchee, Washington. They are active in their church, volunteer for multiple organizations, and spend their free time camping, hiking, boating, and cheering Haley on in swimming.
Mast will additionally be honored at the All Service Club & Community Luncheon on May 3, and the Stemilt Grand Parade on May 6.