(Feb. 9, 2:25 p.m.) It was 75 years ago that Grant J. Hunt officially launched his self-named produce business, Grant J. Hunt Co., in Oakland, Calif. The company is on its third round of Hunt presidencies, with Grant M. Hunt, Grant J. Hunt’s grandson, heading up the company.

The company started as a produce distributor with one office. With the addition of three more offices, the most recent one in the fall of 2008, the company expanded into a shipper, importer and marketer.

The first place Grant J. Hunt expanded was The Dalles, Ore., in 1996. That office handles sales, marketing and distribution of cherries from Orchard View Farms, The Dalles; Blue Mountain Growers, Milton-Freewater, Ore., and Spring Creek Orchards, Hood River, Ore.

“In The Dalles we opened up a whole new side of our business to act as a shipper,” Grant M. Hunt said.

In its first year the company shipped fewer than 200,000 20-pound boxes of cherries out of its The Dalles office. The company estimates its cherry business will be up to 1.5 million boxes in 2009.

The next office expansion didn’t come until 10 years later, in 2006, when Grant J. Hunt Co. opened up its Yakima, Wash., office, which houses the marketing department. Marketing and merchandising services were not something the company did before the 2006 expansion.

“That office basically serves all of the other three,” Grant M. Hunt said.

In late 2008, the company expanded again, this time to the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Wash. The office is responsible for international programs, including a new focus on imports.

“The office in Kirkland opened up to facilitate imports into the U.S., an initiative we were putting more of an emphasis on,” Grant M. Hunt said.

The company imports from eight different countries, he said, mostly apples, cherries and kiwifruit. It exports to 29 countries.

Grant M. Hunt said while the key initiative in the short term is managing the company through the economic uncertainty, he does hope for further expansion in the future.

“We need to make sure all parties in the supply chain are able to stand through the storm in the economy right now,” he said. “But we’re always looking to grow.”

Grant J. Hunt celebrates 75th anniversary
Bob Bailey (from left), president of The Dalles, Ore.-based Orchard View Farms; Brenda Thomas, general manager of Orchard View Farms; and Grant M. Hunt, president of Grant J. Hunt Co., Oakland, Calif., examine orchards during the Food Network's tour of Orchard View Farms for the program "How'd That Get On My Plate?" Grant J. Hunt Co. handles sales, marketing and distribution of Orchard View Farms' cherries.

Courtesy Grant J. Hunt Co.