Our congratulations go out to Bob Gix, horticulturist at Blue Star Growers in Cashmere, WA. Bob recently received the Silver Pear award from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association – an honor bestowed once a year on those making major contributions to the pear industry.

Bob has worked at Blue Star Growers for 28 years, and also serves as co-chair of the Pacific Northwest Pear Research Sub-Committee. Blue Star is a cooperative that specializes in pears, and Bob works with all the growers to help them grow pest-free, high quality crops. “If I do my job well,” he says, “the grower makes more money and the warehouse is successful—we all win.”

With 28 years in the pear industry, Bob has a unique perspective. He loves learning, working with people, and is truly passionate about helping the growers produce the best possible fruit. “It all starts with relationships,” Bob explains, “so I’d say one of my biggest accomplishments over the years was learning Spanish to communicate better with the workers.” In his forties, Bob traveled to Guatemala, Oaxaca, and Costa Rica to pick up the language, knowing how much it would impact his work. “Many of the workers have been in the industry as long as I have, and being able to communicate better just makes the job that much more fun.”

Another highlight of his career has been bridging the gap between the science and the practice of growing fruit. Close proximity to a major research hub helps him integrate with researchers on the leading edge of science and give their ideas practical applications in the field. “This industry will keep you young, just keeping up with all the technology,” Bob states. Things are changing quickly with increasing innovation, and the fast pace keeps things exciting.

Bob’s passion for the pear industry is clear. Because it’s a smaller niche than other tree fruit, he explains that there’s a truly supportive community of pear growers. It’s easier to make and maintain connections in such a tight-knit group. When he received the award, Bob was overwhelmed, and humbled. Knowing past recipients, he felt honored to be included in such an elite group of individuals that he both admires and respects.

Heartfelt congratulations go out to Bob Gix. We can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.