It had all the makings of a grand night. And in the end, Tuesday’s Award Dinner at Western Growers 89th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas didn’t disappoint. With a lineup up that included Award of Honor recipient and respected industry leader Gary Pasquinelli coupled with former Tonight Show host and comedian Jay Leno, event goers found themselves impressed, amused and entertained in full Vegas fashion.
Pasquinelli, CEO and Co-owner of Pasquinelli Produce in Yuma, Arizona, accepted the award as hundreds of colleagues, and a multitude of friends and family members looked on. Sonny Rodriguez (The Grower’s Company, Yuma, AZ), Pasquinelli’s “adopted little brother”, and fellow WG board member, presented the award. In his acceptance speech, Pasquinelli first thanked his wife Barbara and said, “Throughout the years she has been my compass and my body and soul maintenance supervisor. Barbara is the only one who puts me ‘back in balance’ when I lose the balance of family, work and ministry.” Pasquinelli, WG Chairman in 2000, then spoke warmly about other family members and colleagues, giving special recognition to his sister, Adrienne, who shares ownership of the company, and longtime employees Davie Brooks and Paul Muthart.
Additionally, as Pasquinelli noted, he has served uninterrupted on the Western Growers Board of Directors for 42 years, the longest serving board director in the history of the organization and also the only one to be honored while still serving. During that time he said he has had the privilege of serving with the fathers -- and even– a grandfather of current Western Growers’ board members.
“I communicate with the (current) sons and daughters, just as well, if not better, than I did with their fathers. This is what I call a ‘servant-leader gene pool’ for our industry. The second generation has the same genetics as the first. And to continue the analogy, they have the chromosomes of passion, dedication, service and sacrifice. They park their own needs at the door and look for the betterment of our industry. This is our strength as an association and as an industry. These are our stewards and our guides, and our visionaries. And that’s what gives this award a big part of it’s meaning for me – the fact that it comes from these peers, from my brother and sister servant leaders.”
Following the Award Dinner and Jay Leno’s highly entertaining performance, the Western Growers Foundation held its annual live auction, raising over $30,000 for Foundation activities and initiatives.
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