CHICAGO — The Packer named Mike Rothwell, president and CEO of BelleHarvest Sales Inc., Belding Mich., as its 2018 Apple Man of the Year.
The Packer Editor Tom Karst presented Rothwell the award at the U.S. Apple Association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference Aug. 23 in Chicago.
Rothwell, president and CEO of BelleHarvest since 1992, has been a long-time apple leader in Michigan and the U.S.
Among his leadership roles, Rothwell has served as president of the Michigan Shippers Association and has served on numerous committees with U.S. Apple.
Rothwell’s leadership was instrumental in unifying Michigan with U.S. Apple and instituting a steady stream of revenue towards both U.S. Apple and Michigan through his promotion of the referendum vote, industry leaders said.
Karst said Rothwell is a great ambassador for the apple industry, frequently hosting tours at BelleHarvest and also making numerous trips with other members of Michigan’s industry to Washington D.C. to help educate members of Congress with about industry priorities.
“He is a man of reason,” said Heidi Davey, Midwest account manager for AgroFresh, Grand Rapids, Mich. She said Rothwell is loved by the industry and his employees.
“I can’t think of a better person to be honored with this award,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing, Mich. “He is so giving to the industry, he has been a mentor to me and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Rothwell said he was honored to receive the award from The Packer and called his wife, Julia Rothwell, to the podium to share the honor with him.
“Every step of the way she has been with me, it is my honor and privilege to be with her,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without Julia.”
He said being the leader of BelleHarvest has allowed him to develop a culture where people live together, accept each other and eventually care for each other.
“We are only as strong as our weakest link,” he said. Rothwell said his employees have rewarded him with loyalty year after year.