Sun Belle to expand with Texas cold storage company acquisition
Berry marketer Sun Belle Inc. has agreed to acquire the business and property of CoolHouse Distribution Center in Laredo, Texas.
The acquisition adds a fifth Sun Belle distribution center to company-operated facilities in Maryland, Florida, Illinois, and California.
CoolHouse’s three-year-old facility has 35,000 square feet of refrigerated and freezer space on 11.4 acres of land. The building was designed to be doubled in size and is strategically located between Laredo’s two international bridges across the Rio Grande, the Colombia Solidarity Bridge and the World Trade Bridge.
The Port of Laredo is the largest inland port of entry in the US and is currently the nation’s top US gateway for international trade.
CoolHouse Distribution Center was established in 2017 by Lucy Montemayor and her father Rodolfo Delgado, principals of well-known customs broker Rodel International, Inc. CoolHouse provides client-specific value-added services including quality inspections, sorting, repacking, labeling and building orders.
Currently CoolHouse transloads and handles an average of 50-60 trucks daily. The facility is certified to handle organics, is Kosher certified, and is approved by US Customs to transload In-Bond shipments with Canadian and European destinations.
Janice Honigberg, president of Sun Belle Inc., announced that Sun Belle has purchased 100% of CoolHouse Distribution Center and will maintain the existing CoolHouse third party business under the CoolHouse banner. Lucy Montemayor will join Sun Belle as general manager of the Laredo distribution center.
“I have known and worked with Lucy for more than 20 years and have always been impressed by her expertise and integrity,” said Honigberg.
“She has done amazing work in building a state of the art facility and a thriving business with the utmost attention to quality and detail. I am delighted that she will be an integral part of our Sun Belle team, and look forward to her leadership as we grow CoolHouse, establish Sun Belle Laredo, and install new blueberry packing and heat seal lines.”
Montemayor said she is excited to join forces with Sun Belle.
“Janice and others strongly urged me to start CoolHouse to help meet the growing need for transloading and other services," she said.
"We designed our facility from the ground-up in such a way that the warehouse can be expanded by another 35,000 feet in the same configuration. We built it with expansion in mind - I’m confident that Sun Belle will benefit greatly from this foresight as its business continues to grow.”
Honigberg added, “We have long known that a Sun Belle refrigerated handling and distribution center in Texas was our next step. This took on greater importance following our recently announced long-term exclusive marketing and distribution agreement with Giddings Mexico.”
Under that agreement, Sun Belle markets all of Giddings Mexico’s conventional and organic blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Patricio Cortes, general manager and co-founder of Giddings Mexico, said: “We are extremely pleased that Sun Belle is establishing a distribution center in Laredo."
As we continue to increase our berry production in many diverse growing areas throughout central and northern Mexico, we are confident that this centralized distribution center will add significant customer support and real time responsiveness so that the freshest product delivers from our farms to retailers and to consumers.”
Honigberg noted that in addition to CoolHouse, a sales and distribution company named Sun Belle Laredo will also be established to deliver berries directly to customers in the south and southwest and for customer pick-ups.
“Between our five distribution centers we can service retailers and food service providers throughout the country with even better efficiency and coverage.”
Sun Belle Inc. was established in Washington, DC in 1986 by Honigberg and is the exclusive marketer of the Sun Belle and Green Belle brands.
The company distributes conventional and organic blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; certified biodynamic organic cranberries and blueberries; golden berries and red currants; and green house and specialty produce. In addition to the new warehouse in Laredo, Texas, Sun Belle also has distribution facilities and sales teams in Jessup, Maryland; Miami, Florida; Schiller Park, Illinois; and Oxnard, California.