Grand Avenue Produce Company Inc.: Going the Extra Mile

Grand Avenue Produce Company Inc. (Grand Avenue Produce) is a full-line produce and dairy distributor based in Phoenix, Ariz. Mr. and Mrs. Roy M. New founded the family business in 1946, and the progressive, team-oriented company has grown substantially from its humble beginnings. “We started as an open-air fruit stand,” says John New, Roy and his wife’s son and the current president of Grand Avenue Produce.

John came home to work for his father after serving in the Marine Corps, following in the footsteps of his brother Raymond, who served as company president until 1996. Though working for the family business wasn’t his original plan, John is proud to carry on a proud tradition, one that he intends to pass along. “We are in the second and third generation now,” explains John. “I have two sons and a nephew working here and my wife does accounts payable and receivable.”

Reinforcing everything that has made Grand Avenue Produce a trusted strategic partner for over 500 restaurants, retail grocery and foodservice establishments, John and his team value the company’s customers and prioritize their satisfaction. Many of the company’s strategic partners have been with Grand Avenue Produce for over three decades. These partnerships have helped the company to grow sustainably for nearly 70 years. Grand Avenue Produce is a leading distributor in the state and John has plans to continue to expand geographically throughout the Southwest.

Products and Services

Grand Avenue Produce’s 95 employees work 24 hours to distribute a wide range of the highest quality seasonal fruits, vegetables and dairy products to customers all over Arizona. “We try not to overthink our business model,” explains John. “We keep it as simple as possible; it’s part of the customer service that sets us apart from other companies.”

Communication is the driving force behind the business, and Grand Avenue Produce delivers simple, helpful and accurate information to customers. “It’s a two-way street,” emphasizes John. “From the beginning of the first phone call, we never leave our customers on hold. We listen to their needs, and keep them updated on the status of all orders and new offerings.”

John promotes the same attitude of mutually beneficial interaction when it comes to Grand Avenue Produce’s valued supply chain partners. “I’ve personally dealt with some of our shippers and growers for the past 35 years,” continues John. “We know one another well. It goes back to the old-school handshake, word-is-your-bond type of thing, and we do it as a partnership.” These reciprocal relationships help Grand Avenue Produce secure top-quality direct-from-grower product even in a sometimes volatile commodities market. These close partnerships also assist in traceability for Grand Avenue Produce, which is “full recall” capable.

Drawing from these resources, Grand Avenue Produce’s clients can procure a smorgasbord of fresh, custom-labeled vegetables, fruits and dairy items with exceptional flavor, but John says his team’s forte is tomatoes. “From cherry tomatoes to four-by-four vine-ripened tomatoes, that’s where we really shine,” he says. “We source the best, thoroughly inspect everything, and then repack everything using 100-percent reusable containers.”

For distribution of products at all appropriate stages of ripeness, the company owns a private fleet of trucks that are well maintained and appropriately rotated. “We have no trucks over seven years old,” says John. “After we’ve had a truck that long, we replace it.” Each truck displays the company logo on the side and Grand Avenue Produce hires only experienced, professional drivers for delivery. “We’re very particular about who we hire,” John explains. “Not just our drivers, but our warehouse staff, our sales team – they all have to be clean-cut people. We try to stress the customer service aspect of our operation.” This commitment to rigorous quality control allows Grand Avenue Produce to deliver 100-percent usable product.

Facilities and Capabilities

Grand Avenue Produce supplies all its customers out of a single ASI-certified 25,000-square foot facility in Phoenix, but by the end of December 2012 an additional building was completed to provide the company an additional 50,000 square feet for processing, storage and cross-docking consolidation. The extra space makes more room for more tomatoes, as well as several new endeavors Grand Avenue Produce is undertaking within the next year.

With new projects in the pipeline, John has plans for major expansion of capabilities from the ground up. “We plan to double the size of our workforce,” he says. The company worked strenuously to push through the recession, and now John says his team is doing better than ever. “We’re headed in the right direction,” explains John. “We’re staying aggressive like we have been. Right now we deliver to all points in Arizona, but we’re considering venturing out into Nevada and Southern California.”

Outside of geographic expansion, Grand Avenue Produce has some new products on the way to customers. “We’re going to be distributing wine,” elaborates John. “We were approached about two years ago by an outfit out of Chicago. We have worked out a solid plan so we’re going to start distributing wine for them.” Unfortunately, Grand Avenue Produce does not yet offer cheese, but perhaps the wine could prove inspiring.

Grand Avenue Produce celebrated 65 years of business in 2011. With another generation in the business, the company is well-established to continue on a course of growth for decades to come. John and his team continue a dedication to superior customer service, quality products, flexibility, purchasing power and timely delivery. Grand Avenue Produce Company Inc. is more than a produce distributor: It’s a tradition of excellence.