Ron Carkoski is CEO of New Harvest Foods, formerly H. Brooks & Co. and J&J Distributing. ( File photo )

Long-time Twin City produce companies H. Brooks & Co. and its affiliates, and J&J Distributing are being acquired and consolidated into a new company, known as New Harvest Foods, helmed by industry veteran Ron Carkoski.

New Harvest Foods, controlled by The Dragonfly Group, is purchasing H. Brooks and J&J, according to a news release, bringing together the “complementary strengths of both organizations to create a new and stronger healthy foods company called New Harvest Foods.”

Carkoski, who retired in December after serving as CEO of the Four Seasons Family of Companies since 2002, is New Harvest Foods CEO. He recently received the United Fresh Produce Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has been involved in the industry for more than four decades.

“By combining the best of both companies with the strength of The Dragonfly Group, New Harvest Foods is positioned to be a customer’s first choice for produce,” Carkoski said in the release.

H. Brooks was founded in 1905. Phillip Brooks, former CEO of the company, said in the release that combing the companies “creates synergies” backed by quality and service for which they’re known.

“We are looking forward to expanding J&J’s focus on innovation to develop the latest in new products that consumers want,” Jim Hannigan, who founded J&J Distributing in 1978, said in the release.

Jason Jaynes, who founded and leads The Dragonfly Group, is the sole owner of the New Harvest Foods and is chairman of its board of directors. Phillip Brooks’ and Jim Hannigan’s roles at the company are solely as board members. Carkoski said more people, including known leaders in the produce industry, will be announced later.

Carkoski said this is Jaynes’ “first foray into the produce business.”

J&J president Stephanie Melstrom, daughter of former J&J CEO Hannigan, will be general manager of the former J&J’s fresh-cut processing division. John Carkoski, Ron Carkoski’s son and former chief operating officer of J&J, will be chief business officer at New Harvest Foods.

Ron Carkoski said the deal will likely close by mid-June, and until then, the two companies will continue to operate as separate entities.

“We’ve put in place a team that has successfully integrated and grown companies before,” Jaynes said in the release.

 
Comments
Submitted by R Henry on Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:43

The renaming is a big risk.

Both H. Brooks and J&J brands have significant equity in that market. It will be an expensive effort to rebuild that brand equity around the new name.

Submitted by D.A. on Thu, 05/23/2019 - 13:14

If it were another industry- sure. But it is personal relationships in the produce industry that matter. If the individuals who are the buyer and seller remain the same, then they could care less what the name of the companies are!

In reply to by R Henry (not verified)

Submitted by L.Z. on Fri, 05/24/2019 - 11:07

This is huge opportunity for both H Brooks & J&J. As D.A. mentioned above, produce industry is all about relationships, and both of these companies are powerhouses with relationships. This will create a strong position in the Twin Cities market and beat out competition! The name isn't going to matter much. Exciting to see what's ahead for the new company.

In reply to by D.A. (not verified)

Submitted by Luke W on Fri, 05/24/2019 - 11:10

Sad to see a company with such a long, local history go.... but hopefully this turns out well for all involved. Hoping for a bright future!

Submitted by djv on Fri, 05/31/2019 - 17:50

yep sad to see this happen for brooks and company

In reply to by Luke W (not verified)