Matt Miles, 49, a long-time organic salesman in the Washington apple industry, passed peacefully on December 7th.
A 27-year veteran of the apple industry, Miles made a name for himself in organic apple sales dating back to 1997 with a variety of companies like FirstFruits Marketing & L&M Northwest.
After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Agricultural Economics, he kicked off his sales career with C.H. Robinson and quickly saw the growing opportunity in organics. He recognized that organics would be the future and began to cultivate relationships with the organic growing community.
Miles passed away peacefully on December 7th.
Thanks to his exceptional mathematical and analytical skills, Miles was known for developing predictive data models for both retailers and growers. Those same skills, along with his expert data stories, were also the backbone of his yearly “state of the organic apple” presentation that growers looked forward to.
From his earliest days on this sales desk, he understood that organics weren’t just another PLU or another box of fruit. Rather that it was a story rooted in sustainability and a value-added opportunity for the growers. “When Matt came to L&M Northwest in 2005, we had a one-grower organic program,” said Andy Tudor, then-director at L&M. “Within three years, Matt had tripled the size of our program and increased grower returns thanks to his meticulous planning and industry understanding that allowed him to map industry growth and plan for utilization.”
It was that unwavering attention to detail and commitment to organics that also had others remembering his wins. “Matt and I started working together in the 1990s when I was at Peterson Fruit and Matt built a new program of certified organic growers,” said Lon Hudson, formerly of Peterson Fruit and current sales manager at FirstFruits Marketing. “Although Matt was a salesman, he put growers first and their loyalty to him showed as those growers followed him to every organization. He worked at helping both the growers and his organization win in the organic space.”
As friends and family shared stories, loyalty was at the core of who Miles was: to his wife and daughters, as a husband and father; to his family and neighbors, who he was always there for; to the growers, co-workers and customers that called him a friend. Everyone knew if you called him, he would be there to help and he will be deeply missed by everyone.
Miles is survived by his wife Kristi, daughters Ashley and Sydney, his parents and one brother. Memorial services will be at a later date.