(June 12) IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Custom Pak is going west.

A division of the Immokalee-based tomato, pepper and cucumber grower-shipper Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., Custom Pak has opened a Sacramento, Calif., distribution warehouse. In the fall, Custom Pak also plans to open a facility in Nogales, Ariz.

The Sacramento operation is called Custom Pak West.

The move to California will give the major East Coast tomato and vegetable distributor a bigger national presence and boost its tomato volume by 15%, or up to 30 truckloads a day, said Jaime Weisinger, director of sales and purchasing.

Custom Pak started moving into an eight-year-old Sacramento grocery store distribution warehouse in March. The company expects to receive third-party food safety certification from Santa Maria, Calif.-based Primuslabs.com by June 29, and then plans to begin full operation of the facility, said Darren Micelle, executive director.

The 52,000-square-foot operation will specialize in sourcing and distributing vine-ripened and mature-green tomatoes from the San Joaquin Valley. A repacking facility will handle dry vegetables such as bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplant.

FOURTH FACILITY

The Sacramento addition gives Custom Pak four national distribution centers. Its other facilities are in Immokalee; Hendersonville, N.C.; and Westover, Md. Custom Pak operates separately from Six L’s as a wholesaler-distributor of value-added items.

Custom Pak West will have 18 docks and will be capable of storing produce in four temperature zones, Micelle said. The company plans to use the Sacramento operation for exports, as well.

Custom Pak plans to open its Nogales distribution center by Nov. 15 It will procure and consolidate Mexican product for Custom Pak’s customers and repackers and the company’s other distribution facilities out of an existing building, Micelle said.

The addition of the 40,000-square-foot Nogales facility, which he estimates will handle 40 loads of product a week, will nearly complete Custom Pak’s national integration, Micelle said.

The Sacramento expansion will help Custom Pak better serve national accounts, Weisinger said.