Having fulfilled two years on the sidelines of the produce industry to fulfill a PACA sanction, Brent Harrison has returned to the watermelon business in Nogales.
Harrison was the principal of Al Harrison Co. Distributors, based in Nogales, AZ, which was launched 55 years earlier by his grandfather. In a voluntary petition filed June 9, 2015, in Tucson at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Arizona, Al Harrison Co. declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In an April 5 telephone interview, Harrison said, “Since March 23, 2017, I am now able to be employed in the produce industry. For the last two years since USDA’s restriction to be employed or licensed in the industry, I have been building an in-and-out service. My passion for the industry has never stopped and I look forward to working again in the industry.”
Harrison, who began working in Nogales April 3 as sales manager for Greenzen LLC to help market its programs, said, “I will also be looking forward to working with Ernie Chamberlain to create a team-type effort here. Greenzen owners have been producing items such as watermelon, hard-shell squash, Italian squash, and organic items for many years. I look forward to building relationships with customers and growing the existing programs. We believe my knowledge and experience, along with their ability to grow and pack a quality product, is a winning combination.”
He added, “The support from the industry has been overwhelming so far and gives me the confidence to once again be successful.”
As he starts anew at Greenzen, Harrison said he can’t yet own a PACA license but is allowed “to work in the industry. I am excited to be back and working in the industry and moving watermelons like I used to.” He said Greenzen expects “a sizable spring production” of watermelons. That Sonora production will begin in mid-April and run through June.
Harrison said his financial problems began several years ago, when “we invested heavily” in Mexican watermelon production and “then had a freeze. We were financially in a bad spot and were not able to pay our creditors in a timely manner.”
The Produce News reported in June 2015 that “court documents indicate that Harrison owes between $1 million and $10 million. The firm’s assets are indicated to be between $50,000 and $100,000.”
Other court documents listed 109 creditors. Among other types of businesses, Harrison creditors were seed companies, packaging suppliers, other Nogales produce distributors, trucking companies and growers.