Minneapolis-based Wholesale Produce Supply Co. is getting into the onion repacking business.

The company is installing an onion line—a weigher, baler and piler—using 20,000 feet of its existing warehouse space. The line should be up and running by mid-July, said Brian Hauge, president.

“We were handling onions before, but now we can package to our customers’ needs,” said Art Quiggle, vice president. “So it will enable us to do just-in-time deliveries for our customers, and it’ll mean we’re competing in the market for onion business.”

Dave Kadlec, a buyer for Wholesale Produce the company brought on three years ago, is heading up the new business segment, Hauge said.

“Dave was in the business previously, we hired him a couple years ago, so he’s helped spearhead this venture,” Hauge said.

Kadlec was co-owner and vice president of operations and transportation for St. Paul, Minn.-based Brings Co. He, along with current president Pat Coan and the late Rita Willcox, purchased the onion repacker in 1999.

Wholesale Produce has also purchased a Volmpack 12000 High-Speed Produce Weigher and a Volmpack Auto-Baler from Volm Cos. Inc., and an EC-201 Robotic Palletizer from Fuji Robotics. In a 40-hour work week, the machines’ potential output is 28 40,000-pound loads, Hauge said.

The company also purchased eight new tractors and eight trailers this year, bringing its fleet up to 25 satellite tractors and 60 trailers.

Wholesale Produce distributes within about a 500-mile radius of the Twin Cities, including to Canada through its warehouse in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  

The company’s business is a pretty evenly split between retail and foodservice, and it also works with wholesale suppliers for national restaurant chains, including Subway and Chipotle.