KING CITY — Western Growers will honor David Gill, who has become one of the agricultural industry’s most distinguished pioneers, with the 2017 Award of Honor. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of industry achievement and is given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community.
“I’ve seen the caliber of individuals who have received this award in the past, and I’m truly honored to be this year’s recipient,” Gill said. “I’m the kind of person who keeps his head down and does what I feel is right — working hard, doing a good job and treating people with fairness and respect. I’m humbled by this honor, and it’s an incredible privilege.”
Gill’s visionary leadership has played an integral role in the success of Rio Farms, Gills Onions, Growers Express, True Leaf Farms - Church Brothers Farms, American Farms, G&H Farms and Mission Ranches, growing the capacity of each company to bring fresh produce to the state, nation and world.
After suffering a horrific helicopter accident in 1998 that left him with a broken neck and back, Gill fought against the odds and went on to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 14 months later, demonstrating to millions the resiliency and determination that friends and colleagues in agriculture have long admired. Gill’s accident also gave him a renewed sense of purpose: To put an even stronger emphasis on giving back to both the industry and community.
“David’s compelling life story and incredible achievements are a testament to his commitment to agriculture,” said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. “His drive and perseverance are inspiring, and his impact will echo throughout the industry for years to come.”
Gill has been a strong advocate for the industry, routinely reaching out to Congress and the state legislature on ag’s most pressing concerns, such as labor, water and regulatory compliance issues. He is deeply engaged in the industry and generously donates his time as chairman of the Hartnell College Ag Steering Committee, and actively participates in leadership roles within the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, California Farm Bureau Federation, Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers. Gill served as chairman of Western Growers in 2001 and remains an influential voice on the WG Board of Directors.
“I first met David in 1971 when we were both playing football at Cal Poly,” said Steve Barnard, president and CEO of Mission Produce Inc. and Gill’s longtime friend and colleague. “David is one of the most generous, successful and unassuming champions in our industry.”
A King City native, Gill is also heavily involved in the community, providing guidance to the next generation of leaders as chairman of the board for the First Tee of Monterey County and avid supporter of King City Young Farmers, Boy Scouts of America and the Future Farmers of America.
“David is the most generous person I know,” said Jamie Strachan, CEO at Growers Express. “His sense of giving to kids, community and industry is matched only by his competitive will and his unrelenting talent for negotiation. These remarkable combinations make him a revolutionary force in our business.”
Gill’s achievements and service to the industry will be recognized at the Award of Honor Dinner Gala at the Western Growers 92nd Annual Meeting on Monday, Oct. 30, in Las Vegas. There, Gill will be honored by his peers, friends and family.