Heeren Bros., Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 to celebrate the opening of its new $22 million state-of-the-art facility in Alpine Township.
The event was held at 10:30 a.m. and allowed state legislators, township officials, contractors, vendors and neighbors to tour Heeren’s new 178,000-square-foot facility at 1055 7 Mile Road. Brief comments from company executives will be followed by a tour of the corporate offices and distribution facilities and refreshments.
“We’ve been very successful in getting this new facility up and running, even in the midst of our busy apple-packing season,” said Hal Roy, CEO of Heeren Brothers. “The new technology has already made us more efficient, allowing us to comply with tighter food safety standards while being a better steward of our natural resources.
“Since we opened our doors in 1933, Heeren has continued to grow and innovate as a company. This new facility represents a significant investment in our future and demonstrates that when we say we’re committed to growing in West Michigan, we don’t mean just apples.”
Heeren Brothers is the largest family owned wholesaler, marketer and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables in Michigan. The company broke ground on its new facility in October 2012. It wasdesigned by Dixon Architecture and built by First Companies, both of which are West Michigan-based companies. It features:
Employee-focused amenities, such as dedicated workout facilities and an expanded employee lounge and break room
Expanded storage capacity by 19 percent, including 15 controlled atmosphere rooms that enable Heeren to store more apples
New state-of-the-art technology that expands processing capabilities with new apple packing and grading lines with color and defect-sorting as well as presort capabilities
Energy-saving refrigeration equipment and other energy-conscious features
Exceed food safety regulations and initiatives, including SQF 2000 and the Bio-Terrorism Act of 2002
The new Heeren facility, which is seeking LEED certification for its environmentally friendly features, includes 60,000 square feet for produce distribution and 11,000 square feet for corporate offices. Heeren’s packing arm, Ridgeking Apple Packing, invested $5.6 million in the remaining 107,000 square feet to double its capabilities with new state-of-the-art apple packing lines that include color sorting, internal and external defect sorting and presort capabilities.
Through its subsidiaries and joint ventures, Heeren manages more than 1,500 acres of orchards, represents 75+ family-owned Michigan grower operations and packs and sells more than 20 percent of all fresh apples grown in Michigan.
Heeren Brothers got its start in 1933 when brothers John and Elmer Heeren began a produce trucking business, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables from the South to sell in Grand Rapids. Over the next 30 years, they expanded their operations, selling and distributing produce, purchasing land and building an apple packing and storage plant.
The second generation of Heerens joined their fathers in 1962 as the business continued to grow, adding new facilities and expanding capabilities. The third generation stepped into leadership roles in the late 1990s as their fathers prepared to retire. In the mid-2000s, Heeren launched a series of subsidiaries and joint ventures – including All Fresh GPS, Ridgeking Apple Packing and Storage and Gourmet Specialty of Michigan – in a move to expand its product offerings and geographic reach.
In December 2006, Heeren acquired rival J.A. Besteman Co., creating the largest family-owned, full-line produce distributor in Michigan. The acquisition allowed Heeren to expand its distribution footprint throughout the Midwest and add national, regional and small independent grocers to its retail customer list.
In August 2011, Ridgeking joined forces with Michigan-based Applewood Orchards to create All Fresh GPS, which focuses exclusively on the marketing of Michigan apples. Today, the fourth generation of Heerens has taken roles within the growing company.
About Heeren Brothers Established in 1933, Heeren Brothers is a third-generation, family-owned business that specializes as a wholesaler and distributor of a comprehensive line of fruits and vegetables from around the world to retailers in the Midwest and beyond. Heeren is dedicated to providing fresh produce of exceptional quality, on-time delivery and stellar customer service to its retailers. For more information, visit www.heerenbros.com.