(Feb. 9) PESHASTIN, Wash. — A leading Northwest pear shipper has tightened the slack in its management structure.

Bo Slack, sales manager for Peshastin Hi-Up Growers Inc., was named general manager the first week of February, a decision the company’s board of directors made 18 days after the former manager was fired. Slack also remains sales manager.

After Dan Gaspar, who was general manager for three years, left the company, Slack stepped into the position on an interim basis. Hi-Up’s productivity increased about 20% in the two weeks before Slack was officially named general manager, Slack said.

Slack said he attributes that success to Team Hi-Up, an organizational approach he implemented as interim general manager. The new management structure rewards employees for setting and meeting goals.

A Team Hi-Up member is recognized each week and presented with a gift from the company, Slack said.

The increase in productivity should allow the company to complete its pear deal one to two weeks earlier than normal, Slack said. Hi-Up plans to finish production by the end of February.

Slack, a 20-year veteran in the produce industry, said the responsibilities of his new position could be compared to those of a football coach.

“You were the quarterback of the team, but then all of a sudden you’ve been made the coach,” he said. “It’s not just focusing on winning the game, it’s focusing on every part of it to win the game.”

Slack started at Hi-Up in the mid-1990s as a salesman, and he worked in export sales for Oneonta Trading Corp., Wenatchee, in the late ‘90s. He joined Hi-Up again three years ago as sales manager.

Hi-Up, which ships more than 1 million boxes of pears per year, has increased its tonnage for the past three years, something Slack said the company expects to continue.