Mar 6, 2019Michigan Pomesters name Phil Pitts ‘Fruit Man of the Year’
A processing apple sales manager credited with returning more than $2.5 million to growers in a single season is the Michigan Pomesters’ 2019 “Fruit Man of the Year.”
Phil Pitts is a sales desk manager for Michigan Processing Apple Growers, also known as the as the Apple Division of the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association (MACMA).
“He has been instrumental in helping growers move apples to Michigan processors as well as out-of-state processors,” said Nick Rasch, a Pomesters board member at the group’s annual meeting Wednesday, March 6 in Walker, Michigan. “He is well-respected from growers and processors across the country – many of them often seek out his advice on procurement and marketing.”
Pitt’s performance in sales is making an impact for growers.
“He has continued to grow MACMA membership and is always doing his best to help the growers get the most money possible for their crop,” Rasch said. “In 2016, when we had a record year here, Phil helped move a record amount of apples across the sales desk, resulting in more than $2.5 million dollars to growers.”
Pitts farmed plums and apples in southern Michigan from 1981 to 1996, when he began working for Hartford, Michigan’s Schafer Lake Fruit. He began working for MACMA in 2003 as a “field man” but eventually moved into sales.
Pitts wasn’t able to attend the meeting, but Dawn Drake, general manager of MACMA, received the award in his place.
“I know Phil will be very surprised and think that he’s not deserving of anything like this from all of you,” Drake said. “But what I can say about Phil is, he cares for the industry, cares about each and every one of you growers. He has a huge heart and always does his best to do what’s best for you and the industry.”
Both Smith and Rasch also said they appreciated Pitt’s healthy sense of humor.
“I always enjoy when Phil comes out to the farm for a visit,” Rasch said. “I always learn a thing or two about what is going on in the processing market at that time, and he always puts a smile on your face with a joke or three. I think if he wasn’t in the apple industry, he might have had a career as a stand-up comedian.”
In a phone interview, Pitts said he was honored and surprised by the award. He said the 2016 season was just as busy as any other.
“Each year during harvest, it’s busy,” he said. “Every year is unique, so you have to be ready to handle what Mother Nature throws at you.”