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Ingardia Bros. bustling with activity

On June 16, brothers Sam and Joe Ingardia will celebrate their firm's 35th year as a produce distributor in Southern California. Ingardia Bros. Produce has become one of Orange County's larger produce, seafood, dairy and grocery companies.

In early February, Ingardia Bros. moved into a new 63,000-square-foot distribution facility in Santa Ana, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles.

"It's an impressive building," Sam Ingardia said. The new facility allows ease in keeping the cold chain intact. It also has separate rooms to house items that give off ethylene gas such as tomatoes, bananas, citrus and avocados. The facility also allows for the company's growth and facilitiates its elaborate food-safety efforts.

The new site has 30 loading docks to accommodate Ingardia's 56 delivery trucks that back up to an enclosed, refrigerated warehouse.

The company began as a small retail store on June 16, 1973, in Costa Mesa, CA, roughly 10 miles from its new location.

Ingardia Bros. eventually added a wholesale delivery business, and now it delivers six days a week to a variety of establishments like independent restaurants, fine-dining restaurants, hospitals, schools and small family businesses. Today, the company has more than 150 employees.

In 1992, the company built a 27,000-square-foot facility in Costa Mesa, designed specifically for its fresh produce and fresh seafood operation. The company will keep the old Costa Mesa facility for a subsidiary that provides cold storage for other companies.

Fresh produce is the top line at the diversified company.

"We are the only produce company doing a full line of seafood," Sam Ingardia said. The company's seafood department has earned HACCP certification, and Mr. Ingardia expects the produce department to receive HACCP certification by the end of June.

Ingardia Bros. regularly carries 1,000 different produce items, including numerous sizes and varieties of an item, such as potatoes. It carries some 1,300 products other than produce.

The company prides itself on getting items as needed for customers. Ingardia Bros. carries some lower-profile, specialty items such as quince. The company carries rambutan "once in a blue moon," Mr. Ingardia said.

He said that at any time the company has about 1,600 active accounts with independent restaurants.

"We don't cut anything, but we deal with processors," Mr. Ingardia said. The company does business in Long Beach in southern Los Angeles County as well as Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

"We stay out of Los Angeles County," Mr. Ingardia said. "Traffic is a nightmare."

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