Larson, and Gar Tootelian Honored in Fresno

Larson, and Gar Tootelian Honored in Fresno

November 14, 2013

Phil Larson Honored as Agriculturist of the Year

Gar Tootelian is Ag Business of the Year

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

TODAY, Phil Larson, a life-long Fresno County farmer, pest control advisor, 3-term Fresno County Supervisor and major advocate for Fresno County Agriculture, became the 2013 Agriculturalist of the Year.

Phil Larson, Agriculturist of the Year
He was honored during a lunch with more than 500 Valley Ag leaders, including past recipients of the award.

Larson’s distinguished career had him facing off with Fish and Game in Washington D.C. and pressing ever forward for common sense in the Endangered Species Act, which has had a very negative and dramatic effect on both Central San Joaquin Federal water users and altered water deliveries to Central Valley farms.

“Farming has always been in my blood, but I went to college, joined the Marines and then came back to the farm to work with my father. During his farming years, Larson met his wife of 54 years, Joyce, a special education teacher, who retired in 2000. They have a son Tim, and a daughter Lisa, who are married with children.

While farming, Larson joined the team of Wilbur Ellis Co. and consulted for 38 years with other farmers on pest and disease control needs. He became a part of Farm Bureau, CAPCA and the School Board. “With Farm Bureau, we traveled and visited State legislators and representatives in Washington D.C. to talk about agriculture and the critical need for water.

“If we do not tell our story then no one is going to know,” said Larson.

“I can honestly say that in all my years with farming and Wilbur-Ellis, and as a County Supervisor, there has never been a day that I did not want to go to work,” said Larson, who will soon retire after serving out his current term as a County Supervisor. “When it’s over with, it won’t be over with, because I am going to still be around,” he said.

Karen Musson, Gar Tootelian
Gar Tootelian Inc. was also honored TODAY as the Baker, Peterson & Franklin Ag Business of the Year.

Established in 1949, the company still prospers as one of California’s oldest and largest independent agricultural chemical and fertilizer retailers. Second generation and family-owned, it serves more than 1,400 growers from Madera to Kern County.

Partner Karen Musson, whose parents started the business, produces daily spots for KMJ 580 Radio for awareness of the value of agriculture. Today Musson and her husband Greg run the company.

The Gar & Esther Tootelian Charitable Foundation established in 2003 has granted more than $2 million to local colleges, high schools, and FFA.

The Foundation was instrumental in establishing the recent Valley Farm at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

 A Crowd Gathers for Award Lunch
“I do not think my parents could have had any idea, as they started that small business in their barn behind our home, that we would be here today with so many employees and a $70 million business,” said Musson.

The event was presented by the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, along with major sponsors Lyons (a leader in Food Service); Fresno Equipment Co.; Baker, Peterson & Franklin, CPA, LLP; Inland Star Distribution; and Wells Fargo Bank.