Houston-based Brothers Produce has slowly been adding space to its headquarters on Produce Row over the past few years, but now the company is putting down roots in Austin and plans to expand into Louisiana.

Brothers Produce eyes Louisiana, Texas expansionThe company’s Austin, Texas, warehouse should be up and running by Sept. 1, said Brent Erenwert, vice president. From that 20,000-square-foot facility, Brothers plans to serve San Antonio and down to the Rio Grande Valley.

The company also started delivering into western Louisiana in early August, and plans to have a warehouse in the state within the next two months.

Add to that a 70,000-square-foot addition to the company’s Dallas facility expected to be complete in October, and the company, which prided itself on a conservative approach to expansion, is making major moves.

Much of the expansion is due to existing customers asking for a greater delivery area, Erenwert said.

“We’re not going in blind,” Erenwert said. “We’re going in with business in hand.”

The company has its sights on more than doubling business over a five-year period.

“Today we’re right around a $100-million company,” Erenwert said. “Five years ago we were a $60-million company. We estimate once we’re done with this expansion, to be a $150 million by the middle of 2013.”

When many businesses in the area struggled through the recession, Erenwert said Brothers Produce took a conservative approach.

“Whenever the economy took a downturn, we didn’t want to overextend ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t want to go out and create any expenses we didn’t deem necessary. Foodservice was struggling and there was too much competition.”

The company saw an opportunity now that business has picked up.

The company also brought in a new vice president of sales and marketing, a man well known to the Texas foodservice industry.

Chris O’Donnell was on the board of directors for the Texas Restaurant Association, president of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association and worked for Dallas-based Brinker Restaurants International for 22 years.

“This is a really good move for us to connect the dots between us and the customer,” Erenwert said.