OROVILLE – Gold Digger Apples announced Tuesday that they had entered into a strategic alliance with Gebbers Farms of Brewster and Chelan Fresh Marketing of Chelan.
Under the agreements, Chelan Fresh Marketing assumes responsibility for marketing all fruit produced by Gold Digger. The partnership between Gold Digger and Gebbers Farms will increase support and cooperation between the two companies on logistics and packing, according to Greg Moser, general manager of Oroville-based Gold Digger Apples, one of the largest non-government employers in North Okanogan County.
“We are very excited about joining Chelan Fresh Marketing and further strengthening our long-term relationship with Gebbers Farms,” said Moser. “We believe these new agreements will help provide stability and a stronger consolidated presence to the northern-most areas of the North Central Washington fruit production area.”
Moser went on to say, “We also are confident that joining Chelan Fresh will strengthen the marketing of Gold Digger’s fruit as we become a part of a highly respected sales agency with a strong presence with many national and regional retail chains, as well as having a top export program.”
While Gold Digger will no longer have a sales and marketing department, that doesn’t mean those employed there no longer have jobs. Instead they have become employees of Chelan Fresh Marketing in sales positions or with Gebbers Farms in other capacities, said Moser. They won’t have to drive to Chelan every day either as they are now working as a satellite office of Chelan Fresh Marketing.
“We turned our customers over to Chelan Fresh. They have an excellent marketing base and we will help them by providing more product to market,” Moser said. “Retail stores like to deal with companies that can offer lots of product and Chelan Fresh will be able to offer more with the addition of sales of our fruit.”
The existing partnership with Gebbers Farms has been very beneficial to Gold Digger by helping the company to keep its tonnage up — the fruit it has available to pack.
“Gebbers is great to work with and they have the capabilities to bring our tonnage up. With all the orchards taken out they’ve been a blessing to partner with… they are such a great group of individuals,” said Moser.
In addition to bringing more fruit to be packed in Oroville, Gebbers Farms and Gold Digger have partnered to recruit additional farmers to increase tonnage even more. Rich Hudson is a Gebbers Farms-Gold Digger employee who will be doing the main recruitment and education of farmers on the market, according to Moser.
Cass Gebbers, CEO of Gebbers Farms added, “Our goal in moving forward with this partnership is to help drive efficiencies and improve grower returns by consolidating the high-quality fruit in the northern areas of Washington to fully utilize the north district’s packing capacity with locally grown fruit. We see this as the best way to bring additional value to local growers while ensuring that our customers are serviced in the most predictable and consistent manner possible.”
Gold Digger Apples is a grower cooperative with packing facilities located in Oroville. Gold Digger and its members grow and pack apples, pears and cherries, mostly from the northern-most areas of the North Central Washington production area.