When DNO Inc. moved off the Columbus Produce Terminal in 2011, the company’s customer base was limited to its home state of Ohio and neighboring Michigan.
Fast forward a few years, and the company now is serving customers in seven states, having added accounts this year in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana to a list that already included Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“Moving off the market allowed us to expand,” said vice president Alex DiNovo. “We do a lot of fresh-cut produce, and we needed a new facility.”
The company moved into the former home of Mercurio Produce after that company closed its doors. Since the move, DiNovo said DNO has doubled its full-time staff to 125 employees and also has doubled the size of its fleet to six tractor trailers and 13 box trucks. The company added two of those tractor trailers this year.
The new employees include director of operations Jerry Baker, formerly the general manager of Del Monte’s Columbus facility. DiNovo said Baker, who joined the company early this year, oversees shipping and receiving. The company also has added Mark Wolfel as general manager of its distribution center. Wolfel previously worked with Arena Produce, also of Columbus, for more than a decade.
DNO’s focus on fresh-cut items has been the key to its transformation. DiNovo said the company has emphasized its work with school programs, which account for about one-third of sales. DNO added an orange wedge program this year for schools in Pennsylvania, and the company plans to expand that line with customers in Ohio and Michigan next year.
DiNovo said the orange wedges have a limited 12-day shelf life, but the idea is to save school kitchens labor and time.
“If there’s a demand, we’ll do it,” said DiNovo, who said DNO offers fresh-cut, packaged apples, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks and more for school programs.