Dalton Thomas (center) receives the Impact Award in Hong Kong Sept 4, with Chris White (left), managing director of Fruitnet Media International, and Wilfried Wollbold, commercial director of Asia Fruit Logistica. ( Courtesy Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers )

Former president of Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers Dalton Thomas has been recognized for his work in developing U.S. fruit exports to Asia.

Dalton, who retired in 2017 after 52 years in the fruit business, received the first Impact Award from Asiafruit Congress on Sept. 4 in Hong Kong.

The Chilean Cherry Committee and ASOEX, the Chilean fruit exporters association, were also recognized with the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award.

Oneonta received the first bid from the Central Trust of China to send apples to Taiwan in 1972, according to a news release.

“It is a great tribute to the hard work and passion that Dalton has for Oneonta and the entire apple, cherry and pear industry,” Oneonta Starr Ranch CEO Brett Reasor said in the release. “Dalton has paved a road in Asia that has helped the entire state of Washington grow business.”