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Eastern Propak doubling up on business

Eastern Propak is a state of the art facility located in Glassboro, NJ, just minutes away from the major Delaware ports, offering easy access to all major hubs on the East Coast.

The company has 9,000 pallets positions and 27 loading doors, and offers forced air cooling, crossdocking and certified cold treatment rooms.

“We opened up a new 70,000-square-foot facility last year but it really didn’t become functional until this February and that’s allowed us to double our storage capacity,” said Jeff Danner, Eastern Propak’s general manager. “It’s also allowed us to double our repacking abilities, so we have more than doubled in our ability in storage, capacity and repack.”

20190819 135908 Eastern Propak is looking toward using a more automated process when bagging citrus in the future. In 2019, the company added a few new clients and several that it had, have given a larger commitment than years past.

“Our company is growing at a pretty significant rate. I expect our numbers to be up 40-50 percent by the end of the year,” Danner said. “New growth means bringing in new people and we have also pretty much doubled our full-time staff between managers and regular employees.”

As it readies itself for fall, Danner noted that it’s not its busiest season but there’s still a lot going on.

“Our first Brazilian mangos come in mid-August and those numbers will ramp up through the month of September and peak in the month of October,” he said. “I would expect in late August and September we will be bringing in about 35-40 loads of mangos a week and we will get up around 70 come October.”

Mangos, he explained, are intriguing because they intrinsically have some issues and that presents some challenges for the company.

“Some years it is worse than others, but there’s a fair amount of repack that goes along with the Brazilian mango deal and to a lesser extent, Peru and Uruguay and some of the other Central American countries,” Danner said. “There will be a fair amount. It’s a hectic period because mangos have a very finite shelf life. The turnover on mangos is usually five to six days and that’s how the boats are situated also. Plus, every container of mangos that we bring in, we will average about seven to 10 trucks out.”

Soon, the company will be starting with its Peruvian and Brazilian grape season, as that’s projected to start in late September or early October.

“Last year, numbers were off fairly significantly because Chile was down, California went late and the market supply was less than demand,” Danner said. “I expect double over the 2018-19 season this time around. We have increased commitments from some of our clients and we’re going to bring on a client or two to ensure we stay at the levels we’re looking to be. I see a very active grape deal. That will continue right through May.”

A big issue that continues to bother Danner is New Jersey’s mandated minimum wage increase, which is slated to rise to $15 by 2025.

“We’ve experienced a 24 percent increase in the last calendar year with another shot coming Jan. 1,” he said. “It’s a little bit challenging when the surrounding states are not under such a mandate. It puts us at a fairly significant competitive disadvantage. We are looking to more automated processes like bagging citrus. That seems to be the trend it’s going to go.”

Around the community, Eastern Propak supports a number of local charities, including the Boys and Girls Club and local churches.

“We try to do our part and be a good neighbor and be a good member of the community,” Danner said.