Mastronardi Produce, the greenhouse fresh fruit and vegetable company sells and markets produce under the SUNSET® brand, today announced the opening of a new 185,000-square-foot facility in Laredo, Texas near its current distribution center.
Customized to the company's needs, the warehouse was designed to efficiently provide pick and pack operations in support of the demand for SUNSET-branded fruits and vegetables from leading retailers and foodservice operators in the region. The move comes just after Mastronardi’s announcement that they will be opening a distribution center in British Columbia.
“Laredo has been a very important location for us for many years, but we’ve outgrown our old facility,” says Paul Mastronardi, President and CEO of Mastronardi Produce. “With this new facility, we are significantly increasing our ability to efficiently service customers across the Southern region of the U.S. with the freshest, highest quality SUNSET produce.”
Mastronardi's new 185,000-square-foot facility in Laredo, TX.
The new facility will feature an upgraded, state of the art operating system for inventory tracking, customer fulfillment, receiving, shipping and tracing of produce from farms to consumers. It will include multi-temp cooling zones allowing for storage of the company’s newer commodities that require varied temperature control, such as berries and lettuce. And at triple the size of the old location, it also brings additional value-added packing for the company in the South, reducing transportation times and enabling more direct shipments of fresh SUNSET produce to customers in that region. With 78 dock doors, the new facility will also significantly increase the speed and efficiency of cross-docking. The DC will be served by an ever- growing network of farms which will benefit from the increased efficiencies obtained by the new facility. The site also includes room for expansion in the future.
"We are always looking to optimize our nationwide network of distribution centers and improve our operations. Today we operate 9 distribution centers totaling over one million square feet of cooled warehouse and distribution space and each operates in partnership with our customers to reduce food miles while increasing shelf life," says John Hemeon, Chief Operating Officer at Mastronardi Produce. "The expanded omnichannel facility allows us to increase our own efficiencies and distribute a wider range of SUNSET branded fruits and vegetables with its multiple temperature zones. It also allows the company to better meet the increased customer demand and provide even greater value in the face of the changes in retail and foodservice brought on by the challenges of the pandemic and its aftermath.”
The facility is strategically located near the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge where much of the nation’s produce crosses from Mexico, making it ideal for efficient transportation. The facility employs many of the same staff from the former facility, but with the expanded space and demand, the company is looking to expand its workforce across multiple positions. On the job training is provided. As an employer of choice and celebrating 11 years as one of Deloitte’s “Best Managed Companies”, the company is excited to welcome applicants looking to join the Sunset “Flavor Army” team.
“Mastronardi's continued commitment to the Laredo community is based on its partnership with the Laredo Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce. Their continued support of private enterprise and growth in the area contributed to our decision to expand our presence in the area”, says Chad Mead, Chief Administrative Officer. “We'd like to especially thank the Laredo EDC and the City of Laredo for their support.”
The company has already begun using the new facility for cross-dock transfers and expects the facility to be fully operational within 90 days.