Citing declining San Luis Valley Potato production, Center Colo.-based Cañon Potato Co. is closing, with plans to sell the company to MountainKing Potatoes.

Cañon’s acting chief executive officer, David Tonso, said plans are to close the deal by Sept. 1. In the meantime, Tonso and Cañon salesman Matt Glowczewski are joining the sales staff at Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE Inc.

Active operations ceased in early May at season’s end, Tonso said. The site includes 650,000 sacks of storage space and a full packing facility.

“Between water situations, decreasing acreage and reduction in supplies, it’s getting tougher and tougher to find the volume I need to put through that shed to be profitable,” he said. “You’ve got to put a certain amount of potatoes through a shed to make money and right now that situation wasn’t there for Cañon.”

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it’s the right thing to do for everybody who worked or partnered with us through the years,” he said. “We don’t need another empty warehouse in the San Luis Valley. We’ve got enough of those already. Another packer was looking for additional capacity and it fit well with our situation.

“I’m glad that MountainKing is working something out to keep this operational and keep people employed,” Tonso said.

Tonso and Glowczewski are based at RPE’s Monte Vista, Colo., office. Tonso started July 1 and is temporarily working at both companies.

Cañon Potato was in business for about 60 years; Tonso worked there for nearly 30.

Glowczewski joined Cañon in 1995 as a sales representative. Earlier, he worked 10 years for a wholesale company in Pueblo, Colo.

Tonso has also served as a member and chairman of the potato section of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, and as a member and vice chairman of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee.

“RPE is an incredible company,” he said. “Their family and ours have known each other for a very long time.”

RPE Inc. ships potatoes and onions year round.