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D'Arrigo Bros. opens cooler in Spreckels

SPRECKELS, CA -- Some eight years or so after the idea first gathered steam to build a facility that would house cooling, shipping, business and administrative operations all under one roof, D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of California has realized its dream.

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, the company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of its soon-to-be headquarters. The first shipments from the facility actually took place the day before when a shipment was sent to New York City to family facility D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York and another to Boston to D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of Massachusetts.

Family members from the East Coast joined the local D'Arrigos for the event.

The facility here includes a 100,000-square-foot cooler in a 219,000-square-foot building and 35 acres of land. The cooler has 29 loading bays.

The new facility brings the company closer to its Salinas Valley growing areas. Prior to the opening of this facility, the company leased space in the Uni-Kool cooler in Salinas, CA, in addition to using its own cooler in Castroville, CA. The new cooler provides at least twice the space of the company's Castroville cooler, which is up for sale.

The company's administration staff will not likely be able to move to the building from the Salinas location for another nine months or so, according to Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin, executive vice president of sales and marketing for D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of California.

The company had lettuce at Uni-Kool, but now lettuce and the company's other 15 or so commodities all will ship directly from its new cooler. The company's primary items include Romaine hearts, broccoli, leaf lettuces, lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli rabe. Ms. D'Arrigo-Martin said that until now, lettuce was a separate pickup for customers. She said the new facility would allow for one-stop shopping and cross docking.

"Almost every customer said the number-one problem is logistics," Ms. D'Arrigo-Martin said. "We'll be offering other brands and labels. We can bring it here and load it for them."

John D'Arrigo, president and chief executive officer of D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, said that the company's ability to consolidate goods should come as welcome news to competitors in the Salinas Valley, who can use D'Arrigo Bros. as an outlet for small orders of commodities D'Arrigo Bros. otherwise does not offer. Such consolidation bodes well for truckers who will not have to bounce around the Salinas area picking up small orders. And it should be welcome news to Salinas' residents who regularly have to negotiate the area roadways with ag industry trucks. "We can reduce 500,000 truck miles annually off our roads," Mr. D'Arrigo said.

The new facility has room for expansion as well, Ms. D'Arrigo- Martin said. "We can blow out a wall and add 100,000 square feet. It's already been approved by the city."

The facility should create some jobs at the site, she added. The firm anticipates that within the next month, it will need to hire loaders, cooler workers, dispatchers and quality-control people on the loading docks.

Mr. D'Arrigo said that the facility's design has receiving, cooling, warehousing and shipping "all in a straight line."

"I've had refrigeration operators say there's no other facility like this one," Ms. D'Arrigo-Martin said.