Long-time Yakima Valley fruit company E.W. Brandt & Sons is expanding its operations and re-launching its brand as RemBrandt® Masterpiece Fruit. The company is making the investments to capitalize on growing demand for its fresh fruit, both domestically and overseas, according to Allen Brandt, president, who co-leads the family-run company with his brother and vice president, Dana Brandt.
The investments come after the company reorganized last year, putting new leadership in place and divesting its fruit tree nursery division. “After much soul searching, the family decided that the nursery business was a distraction,” said Brandt. “It was in the best interest of our growers, our retail customers and our family to focus all our energies on our core business.”
Since then, the Brandts have added acreage and increased storage capacity with a new facility that includes a small specialty packing line designed to meet customers’ custom packaging needs quickly and efficiently. Machinery is being upgraded across the entire operation, including implementation of a state-of-the-art integrated software system to enhance end-to-end inventory management and tracking. They have expanded field service and are actively seeking new growers to meet the increasing demand from its customers.
The company, which maintains its own sales force, is also making substantial investments in marketing. The new brand, which features the tag line “Masterpiece Fruit” and a majestic lion drawn by Rembrandt himself, was designed to be recognizable to buyers from across the globe. It was launched by a new website: RemBrandtFruit.com. The company trademarked the RemBrandt® brand name several years ago and has used it in packaging. It was so well received both domestically and internationally, says Brandt, that it made sense to brand the company under it going forward. “Our customers really liked the name,” he said. “It’s memorable and it instantly reflects the commitment to enduring quality that our company and our family stand for.”
Year-over-year sales growth prompted the expansion, but according to Brandt,it is only part of the story behind the recent investments. It is also about assuring fruit quality. “We are not the biggest, but we are intent on being the best,” he said. “Since our earliest days, we have continually reinvested our resources to stay at the forefront of quality and food safety.” The company was the first in the U.S. to be Certified SQF 2000 – Level 3, the comprehensive international standard for food safety and quality management and it has developed packaging innovations to protect fruit on its way to market. He adds, “As a family run company, we are very hands-on across the entire operation, from farming to packing to sales. We believe it is the only way to assure our customer gets the best possible fruit.”
That attention to detail is paying off, according to Bertha Manzo Goehner, president of Wenoka Sales, a Wenatchee, WA company that partners with the Brandts to market their fruit to Mexico, Central and South American markets. “My customers prefer Brandt fruit because they trust the consistency and quality of the pack,” she says. “That quality has enabled us to become the leading seller of golden delicious apples in Mexico.”
The new RemBrandt brand will roll out in packaging and promotions throughout 2014, according to Brandt, who cited other reason for the name change: The company is still family owned – but it is no longer just E.W. Brandt and “Sons.” Although Everette Brandt and his wife (and lifelong business partner) Ada still watch over the family business, it is not only sons – but grandsons and granddaughters – who are actively involved in running the company, and the next generation is already in training. “We plan to produce great fruit for generations to come,” he said.
Source: E.W. Brandt and Sons