CORRECTED: Edinburg, Texas-based Frontera Produce Ltd. has exited the onion and watermelon businesses and given way to Crescent Fruit & Vegetable LLC, a stand-alone company that Frontera owners Jim and Will Steele launched Jan. 1.
The Steeles brought in David DeBerry, former owner of Edinburg-based David K Deberry Inc., as onion category director.
The company operates out of a 120,000-square-foot facility in Edinburg that Frontera purchased in 2010 from Borders Melon Co. Inc., which moved, according to DeBerry.
That was the genesis of the new company, he said.
“When Frontera purchased the physical plant in 2010 and entered into a farming partnership with Borders, it was a decision that was made as the best way to keep decentralized operations,” he said. “The Steeles emphasized they were purchasing this entity because it was a good one and it worked, and they liked the way it worked. They just wanted to acquire the business and have the business continue to run the way it was and operate as a stand-alone.”
DeBerry said he was ready to take on a new challenge after having run his own produce business for many years.
“I just turned 50 and had been doing this since I was 15 and was ready to step into a different role with a much, much larger, much more sophisticated staff than what I had before,” he said. “Before, I spent about 95% of my time on production and sales. I probably spend now no more than 50% of my time on production and sales and the rest on managerial responsibilities.”
The new company has 14 employees in sales and accounting — many from Frontera — and more than 100 in the warehouse before the peak season hits. The warehouse will have nearly 400 workers during the onion and melon seasons, DeBerry said.
Chris Eddy, sales and operations manager at Frontera, moved to Crescent to handle similar responsibilities, DeBerry said.
“That was a huge acquisition for this company,” DeBerry said of Eddy. “He brings just a ridiculous amount of skill and experience. Everybody likes him, from the largest corporate retailer, foodservice customers to truck and forklift drivers.”
Crescent handles 2,200 acres of onions in Tampico, Mexico and about 1,900 in Texas, DeBerry said.
“We’re also exploring opportunities in New Mexico and Colorado right now,” he said.
It’s a new company, but it’s staffed with experts, DeBerry said.
Employees have experience at a number of shippers in the region, including Frontera, Duda and David K. DeBerry Inc., DeBerry said.
“They’re all people with a lot of time invested in the industry,” he said.
Many of the personnel brought their own sales contacts, too, DeBerry said.
“We pulled everything together and there was very little crossover,” he said.
“They can come in and offer directives at their whim, but for the most part, we’re a stand-alone company and we’ll operate independently from anything else,” DeBerry said.
The company’s label is Moonlit Farms.
Note on correction: The original headline incorrectly listed the products handled by Crescent Produce.