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Eagle Eye Produce partners with The Grape Guys in formation of new company

Eagle Eye Produce Inc. in Idaho Falls, ID, and The Grape Guys in Visalia, CA, have partnered in the formation of a new company called Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC. The partnership was announced April 5.

"The formation of our new Eagle Eye Produce Grape Co. will allow us to capitalize on areas where each of us bring different strengths and resources that will ultimately increase our Shaun-RicksShaun Rickstotal year-round supply of table grapes, allowing us to better serve our customer needs," Newman Giles, chief executive officer of Eagle Eye Produce, said in an Eagle Eye press release. "With this newly formed company, we gain a tremendous amount of table grape growing and shipping expertise that helps strengthen our overall fresh produce portfolio."

"We are very excited about the synergies that this new partnership with Eagle Eye Produce creates for our customers and our growers," said Shaun Ricks, formerly president of The Grape Guys and a founding partner and now vice president of sales and marketing for the new company.

Eagle Eye Produce began as a potato company and annually ships over 500 million pounds of Idaho potatoes. "But we grow much more than potatoes," the release stated. "Each year, we grow more than 25,000 acres of fresh produce … from Idaho to Mexico and across most of the western United States."

The Grape Guys, formed in 2008, celebrated five years in business April 1, and that is also the date that the new partnership was schedule take effect, Mr. Ricks told The Produce News in an interview.

The Grape Guys originally had four partners, he said. "Two of those guys are exiting. We have known that they were going to exit for a while, a couple of years, really, so it has been a very deliberate process. We have been prospecting for a new partner, somebody that we felt would help us grow our business."

Greg Irby is the other original partner remaining with the company.

Eagle Eye Produce is "very strong financially," he said, "so they are going to provide the resources that we need to increase our business in certain areas that we have identified but heretofore did not have the resources to really go do."

Additionally, "we are very pleased to see the kind of distribution that Eagle Eye has and now that we are an Eagle Eye company, we will have that, too," he said.

The Grape Guys recently relocated its offices from Cutler, CA, to Visalia.

The partnership with The Grape Guys will add a substantial fresh table grape program to the increasingly diverse offerings of the Eagle Eye family of companies. According to the press release, "the Eagle Eye Produce Nogales, AZ, facility warehouses our Mexican-grown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, eggplant, beans, grapes and several other types of fresh vegetables and fruits. In our Layton, UT, facility we research, develop and produce value-added products like our Diced Blends line of fresh, ready to cook, perfectly seasoned diced potatoes as well as diced and whole peeled onions. Our Layton office also manages the growing, packing and warehousing of over 300 acres of pumpkins and watermelons in nearby Utah communities. From our Hemet facility, we pack and distribute our California-grown watermelons, pumpkins and hard squash." Now, "from our Visalia office, we manage the growing, packing, sales and marketing operations of our California grapes."