Salinas, Calif., has a new company that has its sights set on foodservice.
GreenGate Fresh LLLP opened as a processor-shipper just this year, starting with shipping from Yuma, Ariz., before moving to its headquarters to Salinas. The company plans to offer the core California leafy greens and salad mixes exclusively to foodservice operators.
Robby Barkley, president and chief executive officer of Barkley Ag Enterprises LLC, Yuma, is a partner and chief executive officer of the new venture. Barkley also is the current chairman of Western Growers, Irvine, Calif.
Chief operations officer Travis Pendleton and vice president of sales and marketing Jay Iverson have backgrounds at other Salinas companies. Iverson was director of sales at Mann Packing Co. Inc. and Pendleton was vice president of West Coast operations at Taylor Farm Fresh Foods.
“We worked for very successful companies and we were tickled to death with the jobs we had, but it was an opportunity to build something of our own,” Iverson said.
Barkley became involved in establishing GreenGate Fresh after Pendleton asked him to consult on a business plan. The company’s fourth partner is Keith Bazabal, vice president of procurement. Bazabal was most recently with Amigo Farms, Yuma, handling harvest management, and his experience also includes time with Tanimura & Antle as a general manager of grower operations, Iverson said.
“Raw product is a huge part of the cost component, and we needed somebody that knew their stuff at the field level, because that’s where most of the money is spent,” Iverson said.
GreenGate Fresh is focused on what Iverson calls, “the core items that put nine out of ten produce companies on the map,” including 5- and 10-pound bags of salad mix, chopped romaine and slaws made with romaine, iceberg, two colors of cabbage and carrots.
“We’ve seen a lot of companies try to be everything to everybody, and it’s a great admirable effort, but I think you lose something when you try to be everything,” Iverson said. “So we’re doing a few items and trying to be the best in the business at them. We wanted to be a low overhead company without being low budget.”
That’s not to say the company wouldn’t try something outside of those core items, Iverson said.
“If there’s an item a customer needs that we’re not talking about, if it economically makes sense there’s really not much we’re not willing to try,” Iverson said.