New facility handles Walmart bananas

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, April 9, 2015

A new cold storage business servicing Walmart and Sam’s Club has opened at Northgate Commerce Park.

Geoff Pope, a managing partner, said Mid-Atlantic Cold Storage warehouses bananas imported through the Port of Virginia from Central America.

Using its own trucks, Walmart transports the bananas to the North Suffolk facility, and then on to its distribution centers in Henderson, N.C., and Gordonsville, northwest of Richmond.

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The facility receives and ships out about 40 containers of bananas every week, equaling 1.8 million pounds of the fruit, Pope said. About 14 trucks visit the facility daily, he added.

The facility opened in a leased warehouse on Jan. 28, and currently employs four full-time staff working six days a week, according to Pope.

Pope said the partners have a three-to-five year plan to grow the business enough to build their own facility.

“We want to continue to expand our distribution service operations,” he said.

Pope said the current facility has two storage rooms, 22,000 square feet and 18,000 square feet, which can be kept at separate temperatures between 38 and 60 degrees.

“It’s one million cubic feet of space,” he said.

Pope said the partners created the business after Walmart approached them.

“There was a need for this type of produce facility,” he said, adding not too many facilities have the temperature capabilities Walmart required.

“We decided to find a facility, lease it and retrofit it,” Pope said.