Agricultural Leader Hank Giclas Passes Away

Mon. August 8th, 2022 - by Anne Allen

IRVINE, CA - It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of a respected and talented agricultural leader’s passing, as the Western Growers Family of Companies is mourning the loss of Hank Giclas.

With an admirable passion for ag and dedication to helping others around him, Giclas served the Western fresh produce industry in various capacities with Western Growers over three decades. He joined the organization in 1990, retiring in 2020 as Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Science, and Technology.

“Hank Giclas dedicated himself, totally and fully, in service to the people of the fresh produce industry,” said Dave Puglia, President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Growers, in a statement. “His career was an unabashed love affair with agriculture, second only to his dedication and devotion to the love of his life, Kathy, and their two children. We have a saying in our organization, that someone especially enamored with and dedicated to the people of our industry ‘bleeds Western Growers green.’ Hank probably coined that saying, but whether he did or not, no one will ever embody its spirit more fully.”

“Our industry is immeasurably better for Hank’s vision and leadership,” Puglia continued. “Few in our industry labored as long and hard as Hank to produce scientifically valid food safety guidance. For much of his career, he blazed that trail with little company along the way, but because of his perseverance, our industry today places food safety at the top of the agenda. Similarly, Hank saw the unlimited potential for technological innovation to solve the most intractable problems and improve every aspect of our industry. It was Hank’s vision to create and then grow the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, which is today at the center of agtech innovation for the fresh produce industry.”

Giclas has had a multitude of other impressive achievements in the industry, wielding a strategic vision forward and working hard to ensure its successful and practical execution, the statement said, all the while remaining persistently humble.

“The industry accolades made him blush and he was quick to credit others and even faster to find his way back to work. He was always there to help a colleague or friend (and for Hank, there was little distinction between them), no matter the inconvenience,” said Puglia. “With one of the heaviest workloads on the Western Growers team, it was a rarity to hear him grumble about the weight he carried because he was animated by the knowledge that he was carrying it for the farmers he loved to serve."

Puglia added, “Thousands of hearts will hurt with Hank’s passing, but we can also celebrate that this person of great faith fulfilled his mission before being called home. The entire Western Growers family extends our deepest condolences to Kathy, Hannah, and Henry, as well as their extended family and friends.”

The ANUK team shares our condolences with all who were lucky enough to know this great industry leader.