Weslaco, Texas, sits more than 1,000 miles east of the bustling border crossing in Nogales, Ariz. And that, says, Chad Szutz, is why A-W Produce Co., sees an opportunity to increase its cold storage business in Weslaco.
“There’s always been demand from customers that don’t want to invest in a warehouse, but they need in-and-out service,” said Szutz, A-W’s general manager. “That’s increasing. A lot of customers are sending business here. They want to come through McAllen to save on freight to the east.”
On Feb. 27, the national average price of diesel fuel was $4.14 a gallon, according to AAA.
A-W is expanding its cold storage capacity from 35,000 square feet to 55,000 square feet by insulating an existing facility that had been used for ambient storage. Szutz said the project is expected to be completed in March.
A-W grows crops in Texas — including broccoli from November through March; carrots from February through April; onions from March through May; and watermelon from April through June.
“We’re pretty full during that time,” Szutz said of the local growing season. “Now we have room for our own product and product from other companies. We’ve had people that wanted to ship here, but we didn’t have the space.”
Szutz said A-W’s entire operation, including the cold storage expansion, is scheduled to undergo a Global Food Safety audit in April.
“We’ve always had GAP and GMP audits, but GFS is the buzz right now. We have customers asking us to go to the next level, so we’re going to do it.”