Hearne Produce buys Georgia packinghouse

05/31/2012 06:41:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

A Florida’s cabbage grower-shipper is expanding its window by purchasing a Georgia packinghouse.

Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, Fla., bought a Cecil, Ga. vegetable packing shed formerly owned by the defunct Pacific Collier Fresh Co., Immokalee, Fla.

The new operation is Hearne Produce of Georgia LLC.

Jeff Williams, Hearne’s president, said the company has been involved in the Georgia deal since the late 1990s, renting packing and cooling facilities, which was expensive.

He said the company moved quickly to buy the vacant facility.

“This will give us a mixer deal in Georgia,” Williams said. “It will fit in perfectly with our other deals. It gives us a longer window and pretty much gives us a better 12-month presence in cabbage.”

Hearne began packing cabbage in the shed on May 1. It plans to also use the packing line for bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplant. The building includes 30,000 square feet of refrigeration.

Hearne grows on more than 200 acres in Georgia, but plans to increase production for the fall, Williams said.

In Florida, Hearne grows vegetables and strawberries on 600 acres.

Hearne grows and ships Georgia cabbage October through late December before starting Florida production in late December with Georgia spring production running early to mid-May to late June. During the summer, it grows cabbage in New York with partner Tony Piedimonte, owner of James J. Piedimonte & Sons Inc. & Anthony J. Piedimonte/Cabbco in Holley, N.Y.

Williams declined to state details of the purchase which closed in late March.

Pacific Collier, which closed its doors in May 2011, shared ownership with some of the owners of Palmetto, Fla.-based Pacific Tomato Growers Ltd. and Tracy, Calif.-based Pacific Triple E Produce Corp.



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