The apple trees are still dormant in Michigan, but already in mid-April the Michigan Apple Committee has hired two account managers who will facilitate the sale of Michigan apples in retail stores. After freezes last year decimated the state’s crop, a large crop is now thought to be in the making.

Michael Bardon of Grand Ledge, Michigan, and Terry Braithwaite of East Wenatchee, Washington, will begin work with the committee in April.

 “The timing is perfect for getting our two new account managers started as we prepare for the 2013 apple season,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “After not having a presence in the retail marketplace for nearly a year, the account managers will play a key role in bringing Michigan apples back in a big way.”

Bardon has retail experience with large companies such as Frito-Lay and Ralston-Purina Company. Braithwaite has spent his entire career in the produce industry, having held positions with Super Valu, Agri-Fresh Procurement and Dole Northwest. He developed a number of innovative programs as marketing director for Chelan Fresh Marketing before joining the Michigan Apple Committee.

“Like most of the growers and industry we represent, we had to make a lot of changes and budget cuts after the crop loss,” Smith said. “Now we are glad to be adding staff and investing our time and energy in preparations for 2013. Our staff is ready to hit the ground running for ‘the comeback kid’—Michigan apples!”

 The Michigan Apple Committee is grower-funded and devoted to marketing, education, and research activities to distinguish Michigan apples and encourage their consumption.