WENATCHEE, Wash. — CMI Orchards, of Wenatchee, participated in the third annual “Made in America Product Showcase” at the White House on July 15.
One company from each state displayed its products in the White House, and the group gathered outside for a speech by President Donald Trump.
CMI — the initials of Columbia Marketing International — is the marketing arm of four Washington apple, pear and cherry packing companies and of California stone fruit, citrus and grapes. It sells 15 million to 16 million boxes of fruit annually.
Willamette Valley Vineyards of Turner, Ore., was one of the only other agricultural companies at the event. It declined comment.
Tabasco producer McIlhenny Co. of Avery Island, La., and T-L Irrigation of Hastings, Neb., attended.
Bob Mast, president of CMI, said it was “an amazing experience,” and that CMI was honored because the White House contacted United Fresh Produce Association, where Mast had served on the board, looking for a Washington agricultural company.
Mast was accompanied by George Harter, CMI vice president of marketing, and Rochelle Bohm, CMI's brand manager.
Mast was among those Trump greeted after his speech.
“He reached out to shake hands and I said, ‘Mr. President, I want to thank you for the service and sacrifice you are making on behalf of Americans and I want you to know we are praying for you and your family and your administration,’” Mast said.
The president talked about restoration of manufacturing jobs in his speech and his $16 billion in relief for farmers hurt by the U.S.-China trade war. He urged Congress to pass the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement.
Vice President Mike Pence, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos all visited the CMI fruit display in the East Room.
“It just so happened that we launched our American Dream program this year,” Mast said.
CMI donates a portion of sales revenue from retail clients to veteran and military causes of the retailer’s choice.
“We feel very honored and blessed by the sacrifices of military men and women on behalf of all of us,” Mast said. “We appreciate that we have a successful business and farmers chase the American dream.”