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The first in-kind donation to under the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission is a sprayer from Gillison’s Variety Fabrication to the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station. From left are Craig and Ron Gillison, Nikki Rothwell, station coordinator, and Mike VanAgtmael, fruit grower and Tree Fruit Commission board member. (Richard Lehnert/Good Fruit Grower)

The first in-kind donation to under the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission is a sprayer from Gillison’s Variety Fabrication to the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station. From left are Craig and Ron Gillison, Nikki Rothwell, station coordinator, and Mike VanAgtmael, fruit grower and Tree Fruit Commission board member. (Richard Lehnert/Good Fruit Grower)

Ron and Dianne Gillison, owners of Gillison’s Variety Fabrication, which designs and builds machinery for the fruit industry, were recognized as being the first allied industry in Michigan to make an in-kind contribution under the new Michigan Tree Fruit Commission.

They are contributing an orchard sprayer—“of the design of their choice,” Ron said—to the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station.

Under the new Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, approved by growers a year ago, cherry, apple, peach, and plum growers pay into a fund designed to provide financial support for the fruit industry research infrastructure.

In its first year, the commission collected $800,000. The commission vowed to seek an equal match from the state legislature and to obtain in-kind support from allied industries like machine and chemical companies.

The Gillisons were the first to respond. The company, which started operations in 1977, has facilities in Traverse City, Hart, and Benzonia, and employs 40 people, including the Gillisons’ two sons Matt and Craig. The company makes and sells hedgers, forklifts, harvesters, bin dumpers, mowers, grapples, planters, sprayers, and other equipment.