Loffredo Fresh Produce Inc. plans to break ground by the end of November on a new fresh-cut facility in Norwalk, Iowa, because that segment of the company’s business is growing at such a fast rate.
Chief executive officer Gene Loffredo said the company added about 80 people to its fresh-cut staff since July to meet the demand for value-added produce. Fresh-cut products account for about 15% of Loffredo’s business, he said.
“Our school business has grown tremendously,” Loffredo said Nov. 7.
The family-owned company serves an almost equal balance of foodservice and retail customers. Loffredo and his four brothers, John, Mike, Jim and Larry, co-own and operate the company.
The new $7 million facility in Norwalk, a Des Moines suburb, will be about four miles away from Loffredo’s existing headquarters in Des Moines. The Des Moines headquarters will continue to be used as a distribution center.
By moving the fresh-cut operation out of the distribution center, an additional 40,000 square feet will be available to ease congestion there. Loffredo said the company plans to renovate that space to improve efficiency at the center. When the transition to the new facility is complete, the company will likely hire 15 additional workers at the Des Moines distribution center, Loffredo said.
About 180 fresh-cut workers will relocate to the new 50,000-square-foot Norwalk facility, Loffredo said. Within the next two to three years the company expects to increase the staff there to about 250.
Some of the existing equipment will move to the new facility, but Loffredo said a lot of new equipment will be needed for the larger operation. If construction goes as planned, Loffredo said the new facility should be ready for staff to move in by August 2014.
Norwalk’s City Council approved the development Nov. 4, and granted permission for Loffredo to break ground even though a public hearing on the rezoning of the site is not scheduled until Dec. 5. The Loffredo site is in a new industrial park that Norwalk officials have been trying to fill.
Capital City Fruit built a new warehouse and office in the industrial park and moved in about a year ago. Loffredo said that will be convenient because the two companies are each others’ customers.