K.W. Zellers & Son upgrades enhance safety

06/01/2012 09:24:00 AM
Jim Offner

Hartville, Ohio-based K.W. Zellers & Son Inc. has completed a number of facility updates that the company said will meet all customers’ food safety requirements.

Most recently, Zellers updated and converted all of its radish lines to stainless steel for cello and bunch packing, said Jeff Zellers, company president.

The project was completed during the off season at an undisclosed cost, Zellers said.

The company also retrofitted all of its ice handling and production to stainless steel. The company produces 20-25 tons of ice every 24 hours, he said.

“Much of what we grow is wet product, and we have to use ice in the packing process,” said Zellers, whose operation grows mixed leafy lettuces, radishes, green onions, parsley, cilantro, greens and beets.

“All of our container — basically carton and crate storage — areas were overhauled and basically are similar in quality to cold storages now,” Zellers said.

Previously, much of the product was handled outside, he said.

“Now, they’re all lined inside with concrete floors,” he said.

The company also has replaced its hydrocooling facility, also using stainless material for the conveying system, water return and all other aspects of the process, Zellers said.

The hydrocooler handles up to 600,000 packages of product a year, Zellers said, adding that the company could have a total production of about 1 million packages in 2012.

The contractor and material supplier on the upgrade projects was Harmac Welding and Fabrication, Climax, Ga., Zellers said.

Zellers’ radish deal already is under way, Zellers said.

“By mid-June, we should be in about full volume and should run into mid- to late October,” he said.

The company, located about 50 miles south of Cleveland, ships to markets in the East and Southeast, Zellers said.



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