(July 25) GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It has taken a lot longer — more than a year — than he had expected for Roger Kropf to see his company through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding.

But the Lowell, Mich.-based firm, Kropf Orchards and Storage Inc., expects to emerge from the process in the next two to three weeks trimmer but healthy, Kropf said July 24. “Negotiations are under way with the banks now,” said Kropf, chief executive officer of the company, which filed for bankruptcy protection last July 23.

Kropf Orchards and Storage, founded in 1938, oversees the production and packaging of western Michigan apples.

The company’s primary function has been to provide equipment, management and personnel services for other companies related to the family-run apple and peach businesses, Kropf said.

Kropf originally had said shortly after filing for bankruptcy protection that it would not affect Kropf Fruit Co. Inc., Total-Agri Service Inc., Christian Kropf Inc., Kropf and Kropf Partnership and Southern Michigan Farms LLC.

But Kropf said July 24 that the fruit operations would cut production by about half during the upcoming deal, which normally begins in late August.

Kropf said the company will conduct a partial farm equipment liquidation in mid-August and is negotiating a possible sale of land not in production.

“Simply, we’re downsizing, restructuring,” Kropf said. “But the company will continue with the family names. We’re downsizing in production and the intent is to expand and grow the marketing portion of the companies.”

Kropf Orchards and Storage filed for bankruptcy about four months after Ken Kropf, a co-owner of the company and Roger Kropf’s brother, died from cancer.

“Basically, prior to losing my brother, we owned, leased and operated 2,400 acres of fruit,” Roger Kropf said. “And today, I’m only operating 1,200 acres and look to reduce that to something probably in the area of 700-800 acres. It’s not only more manageable but more profitable.”

The company had trimmed its payroll, as well, although Kropf would not say how many workers had lost their jobs.

Kropf did say his family’s operations employ “around 40-50” year-round and about 250 during harvest.

The federal bankruptcy court in Grand Rapids, where the petition was filed, listed Huntington National Bank as the company’s financial institution. Peter Rhoades, listed as the bank’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.

Kropf Fruit was started 110 years ago when Swiss immigrant Christian Kropf, Ken’s and Roger’s grandfather, bought 6 acres of land to grow an orchard. After his son Carl took over, he increased the acreage to 150 before Roger got out of the army and increased Kropf land to 350 acres.

Five years later, Ken joined his brother and father on the farm and acreage grew to 600.

In the 1990s, the brothers increased the family’s land to more than 2,000 acres.