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Bland opens Texas facility

PRODUCE NEWS article by Pamela Riemenschneider, Staff Writer Texas production started as a small deal for Bland Farms LLC, but in the three years the Glennville, Ga.-based company has almost doubled. Add that to the company’s new 110,000-square-foot facility in Donna, Texas, and it’s no small matter. Bland Farms originally started growing in Texas to help fill in its year-round program, said Richard Pazderski, director of sales. “We have to service the demand that we have for that 52-week program, and Texas comes at a good time to fill a gap for us,” he said. The company expects to ship 300,000 to 400,000 cartons of onions from south Texas this season, all of which are grown in the Rio Grande Valley region. Bland Farms owner Delbert Bland originally planned to purchase an existing facility to serve as a packing shed and drying facility for the company’s onions, but could not find something that suited his company’s needs, said Michael Hively, chief financial officer and general manager. “The facilities available were all antiquated as far as food safety issues are concerned and that was a tremendous issue for us,” he said. “We wanted something that we could bring our retailers through and be proud to show off.” If Bland Farms was going to build, Hively said, it decided to go big. “We made a commitment that we’d go ahead and build something state of the art with all the bells and whistles from scratch,” he said. The 110,000-square-foot facility, which had its grand opening in November, has equipment for packing and shipping onions, but that’s not all. It is equipped to be an in-and-out facility for Mexican produce crossing the border and for cross-docked goods shipping from Texas to Mexico and other South Texas destinations. The building is equipped with five coolers, including a freezer, and has a capacity of 3,200 pallets. It is centrally located, about 6 miles from two existing border crossings. It also is about 2 miles from the site of another bridge planned for Donna. “It’s a full-service operation,” Hively said. Hively said Bland Farms is seeking more in-and-out business and plans to add onto the facility in the near future.
Bland Distribution Services in Donna, Texas

Bland Distribution Services in Donna, Texas

Bland Farms expands scope of services with new Texas facility BY CHRISTINA DIMARTINO, Produce News (November 17, 2008) Bland Farms has opened a new facility in Donna, TX, that will enhance the Glennville, GA-based company’s ability to service its customers.
Bland Distribution Services in Donna, Texas

Bland Distribution Services in Donna, Texas

“The doors of our  new Donna, Texas, facility opened the last week of October, and the first product moved through it on Friday, October 31,” Michael Hively, chief financial officer  and general manager of Bland Farms, told The Produce News. Construction of the building began in January, and the projected opening was slated for September.  But some residual rains from the storms that hit the Gulf region in late summer held up some of the paving and other details. The cost of the new  state-of-the-art, 110,000-square-foot facility was originally estimated at about $7 million, but by the time it was completed, the figure had risen to $7.5 million. “We worked with a design team throughout the process, meeting with them on a monthly basis,” said Mr. Hively. “With a project this size, the design is reevaluated as it  proceeds. relevant domains Sometimes you take away some details, but you also add others.” The facility’s name is Bland Distribution Services, and it offers a wide array of  services to meet customers’ needs, such as cold storage, logistics, packaging, warehousing or other basic services. It provides FASTrac as an Internet solution for  monitoring shipments. FASTrac information service provides customers with 24-hour access to inventory details, shipment status and much more. “Just consider us  an extension of your business,” said Mr. Hively. “We will provide customers with the utmost professional and dependable service with satisfaction guaranteed  by our trained and experienced staff.” Key staff members of the new facility are John Backer, general manager; Sonia Valdez, finance and operations manager; and Karla P. Antunez, food safety and quality control director. Bland Distribution Services is located in the Rio Grande Valley just minutes from the Hidalgo International Bridge and the Pharr International Bridge. The strategically located platform provides distribution of fresh produce, frozen goods and dry goods  between Mexico and the United States. It also houses an on-site U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection office and offers electronic data interchange technology. The facility offers packing and repacking; cross-docking; freight consolidation; short and long-term dry storage; four ozone-capable cold-storage areas  with variable independent temperature and humidity control; a freezer storage area; overweight load handling; extended hours of operation; and it has office space  available for lease. Overall, it can hold up to 3,200 pallets, or about 160 truckloads, at one time. Delbert Bland, president and chief executive officer of Bland Farms, said, “With food safety such an imperative today, we must do everything possible to make sure the cold chain is not broken and have the ability to pass all necessary certifications.” The facility is certified by Scientific Certification Systems and Primus Labs. It is also certified for Good Manufacturing Practices and  HACCP. Bland Farms is a major grower and distributor of year round supplies of sweet onions from numerous locations in the world, and the firm is among the  larger producers of Vidalia onions in Georgia. Mr. Bland said that the company initially wanted to introduce itself to the Donna, TX, area, which is a key hub for  imports from and exports to Mexico. “We originally went to Texas to purchase a facility for packing onions and cross docking,” said Mr. Bland. “But our research revealed there were no true state-of-the-art facilities. We realized a need for the type of facility that we have designed and developed.” Mr. Bland said that the  facility was built to accommodate future expansion. “We plan to expand both cold and dry storage within the next year, and we will even build to suit with an  expansion or a separate facility,” he said. “Some people are being more conservative during the current economic crisis and are hesitant to make major moves. But  our feelings are contrary to that rationale. We feel it is during these times that major growth initiatives should be made.” Besides handling product from  Mexico, Mr. Bland said that there is also demand for U.S. product to move into Mexico. similar sites The biggest need for the new facility is related to trucking issues.  American trucks do not always want to go into Mexico, and Mexican truckers cannot always enter the United States due to regulatory issues. “Mexico will  continue to be a U.S. trading partner in the future, and trade will only increase over time,” said Mr. Bland. “The Bland Distribution Services facility has the  capability of handling all types of goods, and of doing it efficiently and expediently. Regarding produce, we will be moving all seasonal products, including tomatoes,  avocados, limes and lemons. In fact, we will be moving everything, from A to Z.” Bland Distribution Services
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