83-Year-Old Oregon Fruit Products Acquires New Facility

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Company to Move Headquarters in December 2018

“We were pleased to share with our team that the company roots would remain firmly planted in Salem," Chris Sarles, CEO, Oregon Fruit Products

Oregon Fruit Products today announced it has completed the purchase of a 26-acre property and 165,000 square-foot food processing facility in Salem, Ore. previously owned by NORPAC Foods.

The company has operated from its original location in Salem since the its founding in 1935. With the processing plant and office space reaching capacity, Chris Sarles, Oregon Fruit CEO had been searching for a new facility for a few years, even considering a relocation outside the Salem area. When he saw the sale of NORPAC Foods’ canned vegetable business to Seneca, he reached out, enticed by the existing food manufacturing capabilities and great access to I-5. In addition, the close proximity to the current Oregon Fruit location will help to maximize the continuity of employment for the team. Oregon Fruit Products currently employs 85 people and 100 additional seasonal workers during the fresh fruit harvest.

“We were pleased to share with our team that the company roots would remain firmly planted in Salem,” says Sarles. “We would like to thank Mayor Chuck Bennett, the Salem City Council, SEDCOR, the City of Salem, and for their commitment and dedication to retain vital manufacturing jobs. Each group did their part and worked in concert to help ensure that the process went smoothly and quickly. We are looking forward to growing our business and employment in the city where we were established.”

Global Tastes/Amazon/Brewing Fuel Growth
The move will allow Oregon Fruit to increase its production capacity, update its facility, and expand its offerings of new and creative fruit products for retail, foodservice and fermentation. As a market share leader in the canned berries and cherries category, the company is focusing its retail strategy to build a stronger brand presence with today’s online consumers and the evolving grocery shopping experience. Propelled by consumer demand for global flavors, Oregon Fruit has also broadened its food service and ingredients portfolio recently to include more exotic fruits such as pink guava and mango. Likewise, tropical fruit purees were introduced to Oregon Fruit’s “fruit for fermentation” line recently to allow its craft beverage customers to continue to innovate alongside the growing industry.

Still a Family Business
Oregon Fruit began as a canned fruit manufacturer during the Great Depression by Max Gehlar and remained in the Gehlar family for three generations. Ed and Cyndy Maletis purchased Oregon Fruit in 2011. Like the Gehlar family, the Maletises have deep family-business roots and a strong presence in the state of Oregon – Ed’s grandfather Chris Maletis Sr. founded Columbia Distributing Company, which Ed led for over 20 years. Ed and his immediate family also own Portland Bottling co. and HealthCo Information Systems, all companies with roots in Oregon.

“My desire has always been to preserve the legacy of the Gehlar family and of Oregon Fruit as a family-owned business,” says Maletis. “With more room to expand, we are eager to start this next chapter and build on its 83-year history as a growing, successful Oregon company.”
The company will immediately begin renovation of the current office space at 3180 22nd Street Southeast. In addition, the company will update the processing plant, previously used for canning vegetables. The company intends to move all operations and staff by late 2018.

David Alexander of Macadam Capital Partners advised Oregon Fruit in the transaction. Founded in 1993, Macadam is a private investment banking and consulting firm providing services to Northwest based middle market companies.

Oregon Fruit Products LLC
Founded in 1935, Oregon Fruit Products offers a complete line of canned, frozen and shelf-stable premium fruit for consumers, foodservice operators and ingredient sales. The company is located in Salem, Ore. and can be found on the web at http://www.oregonfruit.com.

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Heather Jones
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