Al Harrison Co. increases cooling

Al Harrison Co. enters the Mexico winter melon and vegetable deal with the benefit of 20,000 more square feet of refrigerated space in Nogales, Ariz.

“We refrigerated our whole facility over the summer,” Brent Harrison, president, said in October.

“We had some refrigeration before, but the increase lets us handle more volume on products that require it, like bell peppers, honeydews and cucumbers.”

The company added item-level traceability on all watermelons in the spring.

Karla Osete-Martinez has been named comptroller at Al Harrison Co.

Osete-Martinez comes to the produce distributor from the R&A CPAs public accounting firm in Tucson, Ariz., where she worked for five years.

She started at Al Harrison Co. in September.

Apache Produce adds greenhouses

Nogales, Ariz.-based Apache Produce Co. is adding 25 greenhouses to its Sinaloa winter production, general manager Alberto Maldonado said.

The greenhouses are in the Batauto area.

“There have been plans for that for a few years,” Maldonado said.

“It’s a small expansion. We’re trying to do it incrementally.”

Apache Produce started with cucumbers in mid-November. Colored bell peppers were expected in late December or early January.

“This year we may try a handful of romas,” Maldonado said.

The company has a tomato deal in Nayarit that crosses at McAllen, Texas.

Giumarra Cos. makes staff changes

The Giumarra Cos. has hired Gil Munguia as division head of the Nogales, Ariz., staff.

Cesar Pacheco has also been promoted to sales manager for the Nogales division.

Munguia is responsible for managing the operations and support of the division, according to a news release.

As a produce veteran of 22 years, Munguia has had positions in Nogales with L&M Cos., Raleigh, N.C., and Certified Pack, a division of Premium Produce.

After working in the sales office for 15 years, Pacheco’s new role will incorporate managing the sales staff and increasing the division’s customer base, according to the release.

Greenhouse Produce, smaller growers partner

Vero Beach, Fla.-based Greenhouse Produce Co. has added 100 hectares (about 250 acres) to Mexico production over the last 18 months, said Fried De Schouwer, president.

“We are actually focusing more and more on serving smaller growers that have a need for direction, especially with the current economic turmoil,” De Schouwer said.

“As they grew from small players to a bit bigger, they haven’t lost touch but they’ve had difficulty keeping up with the large expansion going on.

“Greenhouse in Mexico has increased 30% each of the last three years. We’re offering them market information on a timely basis that can give them a little more control over their destiny.”

In return, De Schouwer said Greenhouse Produce can demand greater quality, better traceability and safety certification.

The company has production sites in Chihuahua, Sonora and Sinaloa, among other regions.

More is happening than a modest expansion and a bump in volume.

Greenhouse Produce, known for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, is adding products.

They include wrapped peppers, from one to six in a sleeve; grape tomatoes in clamshells; and some organic products.

The company is also in the midst of social responsibility initiatives.

“We’re funding and supplying a home for unwed mothers and their newborns,” De Schouwer said.

L&M hires Nogales sales manager

Nick Kastis was named sales manager for the Nogales, Ariz., branch of L&M Cos.

“We are excited to have Nick join L&M,” said Greg Cardamone, general manager for vegetables for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos.

“His passion for the business coupled with his unique, varied experience will be of great value as we grow our business into the future.”

Kastis previously worked at Tricar Sales.

He grew up in a farming family in Culiacan and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

Kastis joined L&M in September.

“He has extensive sales and management experience within and beyond the produce industry,” Cardamone said.

Prime Time anticipates more RPC use

Mike Aiton, director of marketing for Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International, said he expects reusable plastic containers to become more popular with clients.

“We’ll see more of that this year,” Aiton said.

“More major retailers are jumping into it with a renewed commitment. Citrus and apples might go to corrugated at Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning RPC, just reexamining it. We’re standing by to see which direction customers point us.”