For the past three years, the Nogales, AZ, branch office of Monterey, CA-based Sun Crest-Bollinger International Inc., here, was housed in an office with no warehouse facility, according to Vince Silva, who handles sales for the company’s Nogales operation.
That has changed. The company has relocated its Nogales office to a facility in the Rio Rico Industrial Park that consists of warehouse space in addition to office space. “That is going to work for us a whole lot better,” Mr. Silva said Nov. 8 to The Produce News.
The company now can offer on-site consolidation services for customers.
Sun Crest brokers a full range of produce items in Nogales, procuring from the various distributors in town. In addition to having the warehouse, “this year, we do have bobtail affiliations and semi-truck affiliations “that go around and pick stuff up for us” from the distributors and bring it to the Sun Crest warehouse. “When a customer’s truck comes into town, instead of the driver going to five or six different warehouses, he only has to stop here,” Mr. Silva said.
Not only does it reduce the number of stops a customer’s truck has to make, it also enables product to be picked up earlier from the distributor’s warehouse, avoiding situations where the driver of the customer’s truck does not have time to make the rounds before everybody wants to close, he said.
“The sales are done from here, and the trucks are loaded from here,” he said. But inspections are done at the suppliers’ warehouses at point of pickup, so when it gets to the Sun Crest dock, “it is supposed to be good” and ready to load.
Sun Crest also has a repack facility for situations in which repacking services are needed, such as if a customer wants the product transferred to some specialty packs. If, for example, a customer wants the product in returnable plastic containers but it comes in cartons, it can be transferred to the RPCs, Mr. Silva explained.
The Sun Crest Nogales operation specializes in tomato products and a full range of hothouse products, such as hothouse tomatoes, cucumbers and grape tomatoes, Mr. Silva said. Customers primarily are foodservice distributors and wholesalers.
Customers are spread across the country, but “my biggest places” for customers are the Kansas City area, the states of Texas, Colorado, Florida and California, and Vancouver, BC, Canada, he said.
Prior to starting with Sun Crest four years ago, Mr. Silva spent 11 years with Arkansas Tomato Shippers working both the Nogales and the Arkansas deal. Before that, “I had two-and-a-half years working with the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] as a produce inspector,” he said. “So I gained a lot of knowledge on how to inspect produce on a percentage criteria.” He applies that knowledge to inspections at Sun Crest, using the percentage approach to determine whether a particular lot of produce will meet a customer’s needs and “whether it will make good delivery or not on a two-day or three-day transit.” Mr. Silva also has passed that knowledge on to his brother, Andrew, who is in charge of quality control for the company’s Nogales operation.
“It seems to me that customers right now are getting a little bit tougher” than they used to be, “and they expect more perfect product than before,” he said. “They want to get their money’s worth, and if I can’t provide that for them — me being in the middle — as I see it, they don’t need me. So I try to make myself valuable to them.” The way to do that, he said, is to be under the market that other companies are quoting and still be able to procure a good-quality product for the customer.