In 1970, the industry record for apples was around 40 million boxes. This year, there is an estimated 140 million boxes, O’Rourke said. The apple market continues to grow. O’Rourke has seen the industry change throughout the years. When he started, there were only two varieties, red delicious and green delicious.
Keeping track of the state’s apples is a huge task, and Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee, said O’Rourke has been known for his statistics for years.
“His work has had a big impact on our industry,” Fryhover said. “And it still is. We just commissioned an economic impact report from Belrose and Globalwise Inc.
“They went out and interviewed 20 different packers, and the data is invaluable.”
Along with researching the apple market, O’Rourke writes a monthly newsletter, “The World Apple Report.” The newsletter provides information on apple deals and trade news.
Thinking back to his accomplishments in his career is not something O’Rourke does often.
“I don’t like to look back on my career,” O’Rourke said. “I like to look forward and see what opportunities are ahead.”
Staff writer Coral Beach contributed to this story.