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Combs Produce specializes in meeting its customers' needs

by Chip Carter | December 06, 2010
It is business as usual at Combs Produce in Dallas, and that is a good thing.

"We sell a lot of tomatoes, that's for sure," said Brett Combs, vice president of sales and marketing. Given the global economic turmoil of the past three years, “business is still a little challenging, but it’s decent overall.”

Being headquartered in Texas, a state which has weathered the recession better than the most and one that leads all others in economic recovery is “definitely a benefit, but it is still soft here. But business is decent overall and definitely improving.”

The company carries produce from around the globe and is one of the Lone Star State’s top tomato packers.

“We do a full line of produce here,” Mr. Combs said. “There’s certainly a lot of product grown in greenhouses in Mexico. And the Florida tomato crop is coming into full swing so we’re doing a lot of Florida tomatoes right now. We came out of the freeze of last year and the El Niño of last fall, so we’re in a more normal weather pattern now and moving lots of volume.”

The company carries every imaginable tomato in every possible configuration, as well as a wide variety of fruits, herbs, Asian specialties and vegetables. To complement its ever-growing product line, Combs offers a wide array of value-added services such as quality control, repacking, ripening, conditioning, customized packaging, LTLs, overnight deliveries and advanced information services.

Founded in 1958 by J.C. Combs, the company services wholesale, retail and foodservice customers in eight states with a comprehensive line of fresh tomatoes, conventional, specialty and organic produce.

When Combs Produce was incorporated in 1964, the company’s core business was tomato repacking. Over the last four decades, it has continuously evolved into a full-line produce distributor with an integrated portfolio of value-added services.

For the past decade, food safety has been the single most top priority at Combs — the company began investing in its food-safety program long before most of the industry.

Combs, which is certified by AIB and PrimusLabs, only purchases products from suppliers that are in compliance with Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices. A strict cold chain is maintained from warehouse to delivery, and all trucks are refrigerated to optimum temperatures and continually monitored

Among the measures that Combs undertakes to ensure that product is safe are: all repacked tomatoes are chlorinated to eliminate possible surface contamination; random testing is conducted on product lots, packing equipment and wash water supply; only approved personnel are allowed into the warehouse, and all employees undergo extensive food-safety training before employment; the warehouse and equipment are cleaned and sanitized daily; and the company conducts regular mock recalls to ensure all processes are in place and personnel adequately equipped.