Hereen Bros. Inc. builds new facilities

The drought that wrecked 90% of Michigan’s apple crop in 2012 also walloped Grand Rapids-based Heeren Bros. Inc., president Jim Heeren said.

“We didn’t even open up one of our facilities,” he said.

However, there are signs that recovery is starting, he said.

Hereen Bros. is making the most of a bad situation in one way: It is building a new office and warehouse complex, into which it is scheduled to move in 2013.

“You can’t build any cheaper than now,” Hereen said.


R.A.M. Produce updates software

Detroit-based R.A.M. Produce Distributors has updated its software system, a process that took about six months, said salesman Michael Badalament.

“It gives us traceability in the products that we’re selling and country of origin, and I think it enhances productivity,” he said, noting that Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point standards require up-to-date software.

The company also has upgraded much of its refrigeration in the last year, Badalament said.

“A year ago we had a big expansion in the terminal, and we’ve concentrated on our business office and packing house,” he said.


Aunt Mid’s now goes by Riggio Distribution

Detroit-based Aunt Mid’s, a family-owned wholesaler, processor and regional produce distributor, has changed its corporate name to Riggio Distribution Co.

The change more accurately reflects the diverse nature of its business, said Dominic Riggio, president.

“Basically, we just changed our corporate name to be more in line with companies that don’t use their primary label as their company name,” he said.

Aunt Mid’s remains the company’s product label, he said.

In spite of the name change at Aunt Mid’s, end-users won’t see any change, Riggio said.

The company has a 100,000-square-foot packaging facility in Detroit and about 50,000 square feet of wholesale space on the Detroit Produce Terminal.

It serves a retail and foodservice customer base within a “400- to 500-mile radius around Detroit, as well as Ontario,” Riggio said.


Rocky’s Produce remodels sales office

Rocky’s Produce, a 55-year-old wholesale distributor located on the Detroit Produce Terminal, has upgraded its sales office space, said Dominic Russo, buyer, salesman and manager.

“We have a brand-new office, which has been remodeled and renovated,” he said of the project, which the company completed over the summer.

It was an overdue project, Russo said.

“We spent years operating out of offices that have been here since way before my time, back in the 1950s and 1960s, so it was time we got everything updated. Everybody’s got their own computers,” he said. “It’s just a way to be more efficient and up to speed.”


Ben B. Schwartz hires salesman, buyer

Gianni Pegoraro early this year joined Detroit-based Ben B. Schwartz & Sons Inc. as salesman and buyer, said Nate Stone, the company’s chief operating officer.

The company, founded in 1906, is one of the oldest distributors in Detroit.

The company also expanded its office space, though Stone declined to provide details.

“It gives our clerical staff more room to work,” he said.


Wholesaler Serra Bros. adds coolers, inventory

Detroit-based wholesale distributor Serra Bros. added new coolers in 2011, and now the company is getting ready to see how that investment has paid off, said Brandon Serra, salesman.

“We’re close to the end of the fiscal year, and we’ll be able to see what kind of return we’ve been able to get on that for the first time,” he said.

He said the company anticipates saving a lot with the new coolers.

“We bought out a company that went out of business (J.R. Mazzola Inc.), and we put in the coolers in their space, so we eliminated the (storage) trucks out on Fort Street.”

The move also allowed Serra Bros to expand its inventory, Serra said.

“It allows us to bring in more product and carry more items and expand our customer base,” he said. “We’re trying to get to the point where we have every item every day to service our clientele.”