SANGER – A longtime local citrus company is growing its operations to continue its goal of being one of the region’s lead suppliers in the citrus industry.
Kings River Packing Inc., headquartered on Trimmer Spring Road northeast of Sanger, recently closed a deal to purchase Gillette Citrus, Inc., a Dinuba-based company. It’s an acquisition the company called in a June 13 news release an expansion that “brings together two family-run companies with a rich history and reputation for delivering quality citrus.”
“Proactive planning and investment are necessary for us to stay competitive and ensure the legacy can continue from one generation to the next,” Bobby Hines, director of sales and family owner of Kings River Packing said. “Many of the plans have been years in the making and it is awesome to finally see them come to life.”
The purchase is just part of Kings River Packing’s expansion plans. The company is in the process of building a 225,000-square-foot state-of-the-art packing facility, which is expected to be completed in time for the upcoming packing and shipping season. Also, a new corporate headquarters will be opening in July, according to the news release.
“It gives us satisfaction knowing the legacy we have built will continue through the Kings River Packing family,” Mark Gillette, former co-owner of Gillette Citrus, said in the news release.
The Gillette family has been farming in the San Joaquin Valley since the 1970s. The packing operation’s main office and plant are both on South Anchor Avenue east of Dinuba, and a second plant is located on South Englehart Avenue east of Reedley. The two sites combined handle more than 100 million pounds of citrus per year.
Gillette Citrus, which has been a licensed packer with Sunkist Growers Inc. since 1986, started operation the same decade in which Kings River Packing was founded. However, both companies have roots in the Valley dating back to the 1800s.
This past season, Kings River Packing’s in-house marketing was expanded to provide tailored resources for retail partners, while also inviting consumers to be part of the Kings River family through its social channels. In addition, Joel Yeary, Martin Garcia, Alex Marriott and Seth Nordell joined the sales team as part of business expansion.
Kings River Packing Inc. was founded in 1977 when Doug Hazelton and his daughters as well as sons-in-law began personally packing the fruit of the family’s farms. Since that time, the company – with family roots covering eight generations – has developed a large-scale expansion including an automated grading system with frost detection in 2007 and state-of-the-art harvest and packing equipment in 2012. The company grows and ships 10 different citrus fruit varieties along with five varieties of organic citrus.