Red Rooster makes mark in fresh deal - The Packer

Red Rooster makes mark in fresh deal

05/23/2014 10:07:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Courtesy Red Rooster SalesTom Frudden (from left), sales manager; Randy Kee, plant manager; and George Seasholtz, owner of Red Rooster Sales, Firebaugh, Calif., expect the company to reduce its energy costs by 30% as a result of its solar project involving 541 solar panels (background).Even though Firebaugh, Calif.-based Red Rooster Sales has been growing tomatoes for more than 50 years, the company still is “the new kid on the block” when it comes to the fresh market, said sales manager Tom Frudden.

After only 11 seasons, Red Rooster ships 2.5 million cartons a year, Frudden said.

The family-owned company started out small but came to prosper as a result of its strategically located ranches, Frudden said.

The firm kicks off the harvest in the spring in the central San Joaquin Valley, then moves to Firebaugh followed by the Hollister/Merced area and then back to Firebaugh.

Growing in multiple areas gives the firm the ability to maintain decent yields and good quality when temperatures soar in the valley during the summer, he said.

“Only four shippers do that,” Frudden added.

Red Rooster recently “made a green move,” installing 541 solar panels to produce energy for its packing operation, Frudden said, and the company has increased its de-greening capacity by 10%.

The firm is owned by John and Vicky Seasholtz, with son, George, heading up production and daughter, Lisa Elgorriago, in charge of administration.

Plant manager Randy Kee has been with the company since it started its fresh operation, and Frudden, who said he “was born and raised in the mature-green deal,” joined the firm three years ago after stints at The Giumarra Cos. and Meyer Tomatoes in Nogales, Ariz.

For 40 years, Red Rooster focused on the processing side with its mature-green tomato operation, but the Seasholtzes saw others growing fresh-market tomatoes around them and decided they wanted to get involved, too, Frudden said.

“They were meant to grow tomatoes,” he said.

Today, Red Rooster has 1,500 acres of fresh-market mature-green and roma tomatoes — 90% mature-greens and the remainder romas.

“We always thought romas are a nice complement to mature-greens,” Frudden said. “Many customers want a few pallets of romas, so we eliminate the need for double stops.”

The company also has 4,500 acres of processing tomatoes, onions, wine grapes and other crops.

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