2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Kassi Orozco

Sales Specialist
River Valley Fruit, LLC
Grandview, WA

Age: 37
Hometown: Zillah, WA
Hobbies: Camping and boating with family, Vacationing in Puerto Vallarta
Family/Community: Married, 2 children
Motto in Life: If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it!

Orozco is the perfect example of how a successful career in agriculture can be achieved through hard work and commitment. She started at River Valley Fruit LLC (then known as Conrad Gilbert) out of high school and has worked through various positions to now being one of the company’s sales and marketing leaders. She’s known for paving the way with exciting new ideas, collaborations and packaging.

She has been part of various collaborations throughout her 16 years with River Valley Fruit, such as creating and designing the company’s Blue Eyed packaging line. The company now has three different labels that are part of that line that is shipped worldwide. She was also part of the marketing team that helped launch the Audra Rose Cherry and succeeded in getting the Audra Rose its own PLU. She has helped grow the River Valley Fruit cherry program to a small powerhouse, allowing for continued improvements, such as an all-new packing line for the 2024 cherry season. She assisted in growing the company’s 500,000 box annual packing to nearly 3 million boxes.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?

I wish I would have known the lifelong connections and relationships that could be made going into the produce industry. This industry gives you the gift of day-to-day business relationships, but also the ability to develop great relationships with customers and growers that will last a lifetime. You develop a relationship with the people you do business with, and then their positions change, or they move on to other parts of the industry that you don’t necessarily work with, and you still find that you reach out to them and vice versa. That is truly the best part of my job.

Q: What is the one thing in your business you are most passionate about?

I am most passionate about having strong relationships with my growers and my customers. I have the availability to go out into the orchards, have conversations with the growers, learn their fruit and growing practices, and figure out which fruit best fits each of my customers. If you connect all those puzzle pieces together, in the end you are going to be more successful for your grower, as well as your end customer.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?

To help increase consumption of produce at the point of sale, it is important to prioritize consistency and effective messaging. This involves ensuring the produce offered is of optimal quality, thus making it appealing to consumers.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

I was part of the marketing team that helped launch the Audra Rose cherry. When I met the one and only grower of this cherry, he made it very clear that he did not want this cherry packed as a Rainier or Dark Sweet. He wanted this cherry to have its own identity and be sold as an Audra Rose. He believed in the cherry so much and knew how special it was. I made it my mission to market this cherry the way he wanted it done. So, we did the work to get the cherry a patent, trademark and found the right retailers to market it. Today, it is one of our most desired varieties.