Coral BeachSundance Organics owner Bill Hahlbohm maintained close contact with staff in Oceanside, Calif., while he manned his company's booth at the United Fresh expo, directing an expansion of facilities and staff via cell phone.CHICAGO – It’s expansion season at Sundance Organics, where a larger staff and additional warehouse space are in the works to meet customer demands.
The Oceanside, Calif.-based grower-shipper of citrus, avocados and exotic fruits has seen business triple in the past two years, said owner Bill Hahlbohm.
“I’ve been doing this since 1971 and I’m seriously thinking of making a career of it,” Hahlbohm joked while talking with attendees at the United Fresh Produce Association expo.
Hahlbohm said several factors, including an increasing consumer demand for organics, combined to boost his business to the bursting point. Sundance has outgrown its 20,000-square-foot warehouse and packing facility and needs to add at least 10 packing employees to keep up, the owner said.
To head up the expanded operations at the Oceanside facility, Hahlbohm hired produce industry veteran Mike Whalen to be the company’s first full-time warehouse manager. Whalen has 42 years of experience in the business, having worked for several companies, including the DiMare Co. and Sun World Inc.
WhalenWhen the expansion work is complete, Sundance will have 50,000 square feet of space in its warehouse and packing facility. Hahlbohm said he plans to hire 10 new packers so his existing employees can return to less hectic schedules.
“Everyone has stepped up and worked overtime when we needed them to, but you don’t want to keep doing that,” Hahlbohm said. “People have other things in life that they need time to take care of and we feel good about being able to create some new jobs.”
Last year Sundance Organics installed new packing equipment and added a loading dock and cooler. Those upgrades helped, but Hahlbohm said his business kept growing and he realized he needed to do more.
Note on correction: The original version of this story incorrectly reported the length of Mike Whalen's career.