Dan Heeren, Bruce Heeren, Brian Heeren, Jim Heeren and Mark Heeren, from left, break ground on the new $22 million facility on Seven Mile Road in Alpine Township. Courtesy Heeren Brothers
Heeren Brothers Produce, a third-generation family-owned business in Grand Rapids, recently broke ground on its new 150,000-square-foot building on 47 acres at 1055 Seven Mile Road in Alpine Township.
The structure will serve as the company’s headquarters and will offer plenty of distribution and production space for the wholesaler and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables. Construction reportedly will cost $22 million.
First Companies, a construction, development, real estate and property management firm in Grand Rapids, will direct the project, which will bring Heeren’s production and distribution operations and its offices under the same roof for the first time in its lengthy history. The work is expected to be finished this fall.
“Our team has firmly committed itself to Michigan and, more specifically, to the West Michigan community. We are excited about the opportunity to build this new facility and to do it with First Companies, a local business committed to the same quality and service as we are,” said Jim Heeren, president of Heeren Brothers Produce, in a statement.
About 90,000 square feet of the new building will be used for the company’s storage, production and packaging of its apple business. The space will have a high-tech, energy-efficient and complex ammonia refrigeration system that will maintain the perfect temperature for storing apples until delivery.
“This new facility will be constructed using a specialized blend of local and recycled products. It will be a state-of-the-art facility, one that is successfully built by leveraging a vast experience and long-term relationships with some of the best suppliers in the country,” said Craig Baker, vice president of construction at First Companies.
John Sr. and Elmer Heeren started the business as a produce trucking company in 1933. About 50 years later, in the early 1980s, the firm began selling a full line of fruits and vegetables. In 1992, the company moved to 1060 Hall St. SW in Grand Rapids because it had outgrown its previous location. Three years later, Heeren built an addition and doubled its warehouse capacity to 42,000 square feet.
Heeren Brothers bought the assets of J.A. Besteman, a Grand Rapids produce wholesaler, in 2006 and began distributing throughout Michigan, Ohio and northern Indiana.
Today, Heeren Brothers Produce employs about 150, has a truck fleet of 45 and is the state’s largest, family-owned, full-line distributor of fruits and vegetables.
“Heeren Brothers Produce is a well-established, Michigan staple that has sustained impressive growth over the years. The company deserves a location that accommodates and enhances its unique services,” said Baker. “We have also ensured that this area will allow for continued expansion, which is sure in the company’s future.”