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S. Strock & Co. Inc., headquartered at the New England Produce Center in Chelsea, MA, hosted several hundred guests Dec. 3 at the grand opening of its new banana ripening and tropical produce facility. The facility, which is now fully operational, is located in Chelsea, but not on the produce center grounds.

Michael Strock, director of business development and a fifth-generation Strock family member to work for the company, said that entering the banana and tropical categories, and developing the new facility to handle the products, represent the most significant recent initiatives the firm has undertaken.

"The event marks our entry into the banana and tropicals categories," said Mr. Strock. "We have been working on getting the details in line for the past several months. The grand opening was a breakfast event attended by customers, suppliers and other business associates. We offered tours of the facility to the attendees and handed out giveaways. The event was a great success, and the addition of these new categories, especially bananas, is being well received by our customers."

Mr. Strock said that the company promoted the grand opening event with advertisements, mailings and signage.

During the event, it was announced to guests that S. Strock & Co. would run a promotion tagged the "Strock Holiday Bananza" during the week following the grand opening event. During the promotion, customers who bought 10 cases of bananas received one case free of charge.

S. Strock & Co. was founded by Samuel Strock in 1897. Today, it is operated by the third-, fourth- and fifth-generation Strock family members. Sam Strock, of the third generation, is the company president. His son Rick Strock is company treasurer, and another son Bruce Strock is the vice president. Michael Strock is Rick Strock's son, and Bruce Strock's son, Adam Strock, is the director of food safety.

"The new facility is about 15,000 square feet with 11 ripening rooms and a lot of refrigeration space," said Michael Strock. "The initiative of adding the new categories to our already-extensive line of fruits and vegetables and the development of the new facility is our launching pad for future growth. This project is a major investment for us, and we are looking at bananas and tropical produce to grow to be a very successful endeavor. In that bananas require the extra step of a ripening process, S. Strock & Co. has become more of a processor today rather than a distributor only."

S. Strock & Co. is a full-line wholesale distributor of fruits and vegetables. It sources from domestic and foreign countries, and its banana line now includes reds, manzanos, petites and plantains in retail and foodservice pack options. The tropicals line has Hispanic, Latin and other specialty products. The firm's customer base is comprised of foodservice operators, chainstores and independent retailers throughout New England and in southern Canada.

"Our entry into the banana and tropical categories presents a great opportunity for our customers," added Mr. Strock. "Things in the produce industry have changed tremendously in our over 100-year history, but one thing has remained constant at S. Strock & Co., and that is the commitment of everyone here to help our customers continue to grow with us and thrive well into the future."