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Mike Lust retires from Oneonta Starr

by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar | June 28, 2009
After four years with Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers in Wenatchee, WA, and nearly 30 years in the produce industry, export salesman Mike Lust has announced his retirement.

Mr. Lust, who joined Oneonta in June 2005, said he plans to spend his time gardening, playing golf and fishing.

Mr. Lust and his wife of 32 years, Betty, have five grown children and two grandchildren, and his retirement will also provide more family time as well as opportunity to revisit many places he saw previously during business trips.

"I would like to see more than airports, hotels and fruit markets," he quipped. A native of Colfax, a small town in the wheat-growing region of southeastern Washington, Mr. Lust was raised on a farm but took his time getting into the agriculture business.

After graduating from high school, where he was a member of a state champion basketball team, Mr. Lust worked his way through Washington State University with majors in history, sociology and psychology.

His path then took him to Ridgefield in southwestern Washington, where he taught history and was head basketball coach and assistant football coach for six years before entering the Washington fruit industry.

That career started with Blue Chelan in October 1976, when Mr. Lust and his family moved to the Lake Chelan area. His initial position was in domestic sales, and in 1980, he became sales manager, keeping his focus on domestics.

Four years later, his sales expertise expanded to include exports. When Blue Chelan and Trout merged to form Trout-Blue Chelan in 1995, Mr. Lust was named export sales manager, a position he held until leaving the company in 2003 after 27 years.

After relocating to the Portland, OR, area, Mr. Lust joined Asia Pacific Trading Co., and two years later, in June 2005, he became a salesman on the export team for Oneonta.

With solid experience gained over more than 20 years, Mr. Lust continued to market Pacific Northwest apples, pears and cherries, mostly into the Pacific Rim. He also worked to expand Oneonta's stone fruit, citrus and grape business around the globe.

In May of this year, Mr. Lust took a farewell tour to say goodbye to longtime customers.

Steve Reinholt, Oneonta export sales manager, said of Mr. Lust, "Mike's experience, work ethic and high energy level motivated his customers and his colleagues. His enthusiasm and sense of humor will be greatly missed."