(Aug. 20, 11:50 a.m.) A discount grocer in northeast Ohio hopes the purchase of a nearby distribution center will allow it to bring customers cheaper produce grown closer to home.

Parma, Ohio-based Marc Glassman Inc., owner of the 54-store Marc’s discount chain, purchased Parma-based Cleveland Growers Marketing Co. produce distribution facility in the first quarter of 2008, said Mike Tomko, vice president of store operations.

In mid-July, Glassman hired Ed Tousel, former chief operating officer of Cleveland Growers, to run the facility, which has been renamed MGI Produce.

“They’re a great company, I’m excited to be on board, and I hope to take them to the next level,” said Tousel, who spearheaded construction of the distribution center, which was built by Cleveland Growers three years ago.

The distribution center is two blocks from Glassman’s corporate headquarters, Tomko said. That proximity will allow the company to source from local growers and save on transportation costs, savings it will pass along to its customers, he said.

Before buying the Cleveland Growers facility, Marc’s stores got their produce from Indianapolis-based Caito Foods Service Inc.

“We had the opportunity to purchase a state-of-the-art building right in our own backyard,” Tomko said. “It gives us the opportunity to team up with growers directly. We want the best produce, and we want deals.”

The company is expected to save more money on transportation costs when it opens a rail siding at the distribution center in January, Tousel said.

MGI Produce will likely bring in carrots, potatoes and onions and possibly citrus and apples by rail, he said.