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COMPANY PROFILES

Ben B. gets bigger and better, year after year
Despite what you might have seen on the news, or read in the paper, the city of Detroit continues to provide a productive atmosphere for the produce industry, according to Nate Stone, chief operating officer at Ben B. Schwartz & Sons, located on the Detroit Produce Terminal Market since 1906. “Living here, it’s isolated. It’s almost like looking at a thumbnail,” Stone said of Detroit. “This business has only gotten bigger and better. What we continue to experience... Read more
Heritage: WP Rawl celebrating 90 years
WP Rawl’s farming operation started small in 1925, but has evolved into a leading year-round grower, processor and shipper specializing in bulk and value-added leafy greens and vegetables. The company’s brands are “Rawl,” “Nature’s Greens,” “Palmetto Gardens” and “Versatile Veggies.” Having relocated from Gilbert, SC, to Pelion, SC, near the turn of the 21st century, its rich history has unfolded through three generations of family members and a staff that holds... Read more
LaGrasso Bros. celebrates 100th anniversary, welcomes new generation
LaGrasso Bros. Produce, a produce and food distributor located in Detroit, celebrated its 100th anniversary this past year with new restaurant openings and increased same store sales. “The economy in Michigan has been gaining momentum in recent years and 2014 is a reflection of that continued growth,” said Thomas LaGrasso III, vice president of operations at LaGrasso Bros. LaGrasso’s fourth generation family members, Joe LaGrasso, Tom LaGrasso III and Catherine... Read more
Aspen has ‘good, healthy balance’ with Mexico trade
Although shipments to Mexico reverted to the 26-kilometer zone in July 2014, Aspen Produce continues to see steady potato movement to receivers there, according to Sales Agent Michele Peterson and farm Operations Manager Jed Ellithorpe. “It’s a good, healthy balance for us,” Peterson said of the volume going to Mexico. She said that russets and reds both are well-received by Mexican consumers. Jed EllithorpeEllithorpe agreed, noting that while loads don’t go as... Read more
With new additions to its sales staff, exceptionally high food-safety scores and increased optimism about the economy, things are only looking up for Detroit-based Rocky Produce. “A lot of people weren’t so sure how things were going to shake out a few years back,” said Dominic Russo, buyer and sales associate for Rocky Produce, located on the Detroit Produce Terminal. “But now that the city of Detroit is out of bankruptcy, its economy is really strong. It’s roaring... Read more
Maverick movement steady domestically and to Mexico
Roger Christensen, who co-owns Maverick Potato Co. in Center, CO, with Michael Kruse, said the operation’s second full season could well run a bit longer than last year’s, with quality and supplies both good at the midwinter point. Maverick Potato Co. co-owner Roger Christensen with outgoing Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar and San Luis Valley potato grower Dave Warsh at the 2014 Colorado Ag Day in Denver. (Photo by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar) “Quality... Read more
Paul Kazan, president and owner of Target Interstate Systems Inc., which is located on the Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx, NY, makes no bones about it: the recession definitely hurt the trucking business. Target hauls both produce and dry freight so the downturn in the economy meant fewer loads and less revenue. But the situation is looking better. “For Target, 2014 was significantly better than 2013,” he said. The company’s president said a combination... Read more
With 10 years of service under its chassis, LD Logistics LLC of the Bronx, NY, expects 2015 to be a good year with moderate growth. Lance Dichter, who is the general manager and founder of the company, said he does not have much new to report, other than business is good. “We had a good year last year; it was the best year we ever had.” Dichter founded the company about a decade ago as a dry freight hauler. He quickly moved into the perishable commodities business... Read more
Bushmans’ ‘Boxcar Joe’ is leaving the station
With the new year, Bushmans’ Inc. is rolling with its new potato brand — “Boxcar Joe” — according to Mike Carter, president and chief executive officer of the firm, which is based in Rosholt, WI. Carter said the brand’s initial distribution will be regional and will slowly move to national sales. As the firm prepared to launch the brand last fall, The Produce News reported that the “Boxcar Joe” label will be used with the firm’s specialty, high-end potato... Read more
New York Apple Sales’ Kaari Stannard says  apple demand and movement are excellent this season
“We have excellent quality apples this season,” said Kaari Stannard, president of New York Apple Sales Inc., headquartered in Castleton, NY. Pack-outs are higher this year and we have a very good stored crop for taste and quality.” Stannard added that demand was also very good in early December. Workers sorting apples at New York Apple Sales headquarters in Castleton, NY. “We do have increase in production, but movement has been excellent to date,” she said. New... Read more
Since The Nunes Co. introduced its innovative “BroccoLeaf” product to the marketplace, it has achieved great critical success as well as generating tremendous interest from the buyer community. Doug Classen, sales manager for the Salinas, CA-based company and its Foxy brand of produce, said the specialty store organic buyers were the early adopters of Foxy Organic BroccoLeaf, but the mainline conventional retailers have also expressed a lot of interest. In addition,... Read more
On Dec. 29, The Organic Center, an independent non-profit research and education organization whose mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public, issued a press release intended to help people ring in the New Year and truly turn over a healthy leaf. In the release, the center transformed the top ten studies of 2014 into New Year’s resolutions... Read more
Potato movement for Monte Vista, CO, company Worley & McCullough picked up nicely during the Thanksgiving period, according to Grower Relations/Food Safety Officer Erin Cooper, who said the uptick in traffic was throughout the month of November. “Thanksgiving was quite busy this year,” Cooper said in early January. “We saw an increase in traffic, but it was spread throughout November which made production more efficient for the warehouse.” She went on to say... Read more
Tamas Houlihan is now the execute director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association. He succeeds Duane Maatz. Although he officially took the post on Dec. 4, 2014, Houlihan isn’t exactly a stranger to the job in Antigo, WI. He had been the interim executive director since August. Furthermore, Houlihan told The Produce News that his recent appointment ended his third term as interim executive director. He also had that role in 2000 and 2008. Houlihan... Read more
Honeybear Brands rings in the New Year with ‘Pazazz’
Honeybear Brands — the marketing division of Wescott Agri-Products, a grower, producer and marketer of premium apples and pears — brought in the New Year with some extra Pazazz. The Elgin, MN-based company officially introduced its latest apple creation, Pazazz, in select produce retailers across the country in early January. Honeybear Brands officially introduced its latest apple creation, Pazazz, in select produce retailers across the country in early January.The... Read more
Apache Produce thrives during challenging times
NOGALES, AZ — The volatile nature of the produce industry is good for its long-term health, noted Alejandro Canelos, director of Apache Produce Imports LLC. Speaking in early December in the conference room of Apache’s Nogales, AZ, facility, Canelos said, “I see no other way to approach agriculture other than to have the organizational stability to withstand a couple of bad years.Beto Maldonado, general manager, and Alejandro Canelos, director of Apache Produce... Read more
Hess Bros.’ stored apples  are in outstanding condition
Apples stored at Hess Bros. Fruit Co. in Lancaster, PA, are in very good shape this year. On Dec. 12, Fred Hess, co-owner of the company, told The Produce News that the storage condition is excellent. “The apples have good pressure and all other conditions look great at this time,” he said. “We calculate pressure — or firmness — of the fruit by weight. We weigh them when they go into storage and then weigh them throughout the year.” Zack King, human resources... Read more
Branding helps build recognition for Borton & Sons
Borton & Sons Inc., located in Yakima, WA, continues to promote brand awareness in its retail displays. “Consumers are highly established with the Washington apple brand, and we made sure the ‘Fresh Washington Apples’ popped from the high density orchard photo we placed behind as our main graphic,” said Lindsay Ehlis, part of the company’s sales and marketing team. Borton & Sons Inc. has designed its retail display bins and bags to focus attention on branding... Read more
Cool growing season an added boost to Rice Fruit’s great stored apples this season
“For our company, stored apples are in very good condition at this time,” said John Rice, president of Rice Fruit Co. in Gardners, PA, in an interview with The Produce News Dec. 17. “We had the type of growing season that is conducive to good fruit condition and coloring, and the relatively cool growing season in August and September was an added boost.” He noted that the only exception is some breakdown with the Honeycrisp, explaining that it is endemic to the... Read more
Organic apple volume rising at Oneonta
Organic production at Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers continues on a steady path to meet consumer demand. “Our organic apple volume has grown from 800,000 boxes to 1.4 million boxes this season,” said Dan Wohlford, national marketing representative. “One of our grower partners brought all their organic apples to Oneonta this year.” The company, headquartered in Wenatchee, WA, began operations in 1934 and was one of Washington’s first exporters of apples. Today, the... Read more