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Joining of Twin Cities-area companies progressing smoothly

by Tad Thompson | May 19, 2010
The joining of two produce firms in the Twin Cities area is "coming along well," according to Phillip Brooks, chief executive officer of H. Brooks & Co., the New Brighton, MN-based company that joined forces with Brings Co., a fresh produce distributor that specializes in onions and is based in St. Paul, MN.

Mr. Brooks spoke with The Produce News May 18 on the heels of the deal that was announced March 30. Brings Co. and its employees moved into the Brooks warehouse on April 24.

Pat Coan, president of Brings Co., was traveling in mid-May and could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Brooks, who is a longtime friend of Ms. Coan, said that Brings “needed more space and more updated space. We had space in our building, so this works similar to a terminal market. We are sharing infrastructure. Patty remains the president of Brings. Their people remain in place. But we share infrastructure, good food-safety practices, traceability and those kinds of things to be up to date. There is a new onion-processing operation being built, which will be first class, and a new packing operation. That is the gist of what's happening here.”

H. Brooks & Co. was founded more than 100 years ago by Harry Brooks, a 12- year-old with a horse and produce cart. Brings began nearly 80 years ago when two teenage friends borrowed a Model A truck and dreamed of opening new produce markets, according to a March 30 press release that announced the joining of the firms.

“Brings is one of the most respected onion packers and distributors in the nation. It’s an honor to join together,” Mr. Brooks said in the March 30 press release. “I’ve known the Brings Co. family my entire life and have been looking at ways we can add value for our customers. I look forward to supporting their growth and the growth of our companies for the next hundred years.”

Under the new structure, Brings Co. will retain its brand and its own identity.