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The rendering shows the new addition, in white, at Four Seasons Family of Companies (rendering/submitted).

Produce distributor unveils $30M expansion project

Four Seasons Family of Companies weighed whether to expand outside of Lancaster County but the produce distributor ultimately decided it had more room for growth here, according to company president and CEO Jason Hollinger. 
  • Four Seasons is now spending $30 million to add 131,000 square feet of docking and cold-storage space to its operations in East Cocalico Township, near Ephrata, in Lancaster County.
  • The company had been evaluating expansion for several years, said Hollinger. "We wanted to stay here, at least for this stage."
  • Construction started this month and is expected to wrap up by spring 2022.

Why is this happening: Rising demand for produce ranging from apples and avocadoes to squash and sweet potatoes, a trend that predates the Covid-19 pandemic and the resurgence of home cooking.
  • "The pandemic was a good bump but we certainly didn't base our decision on that bump," Hollinger said in an interview.
  • Nor was the company put off by rising construction costs. Steel costs, for example, are higher than Four Seasons would have liked, Hollinger said. But they were counterbalanced by the appeal of low interest rates, he said
  • The general contractor for the project is York-based Kinsley Construction, while the banking partner is Buffalo-based M&T Bank, Hollinger said.

What's the project: It will add a 48,000-square-foot dock and 72,000 square feet of cold storage space with adjustable temperature zones to match seasonal demands. There will be additional space for offices and maintenance areas.
  • The company's operations currently take up about 250,000 square feet, including about 200,000 for cold storage, Hollinger said.
  • The expansion adds more than space, though. It allows Four Seasons to shift more of its operations to daytime hours, which are more attractive to employees at a time when hiring is a challenge.
  • The company receives goods during the day and primarily ships at night, Hollinger said. The added space allows for more daytime shipping.
  • "We're excited about that for associates," he said.
  • The company also is spending $3 million this year to raise wages for operations employees and professional drivers.
  • "It's one of those things that the market is telling you to do but you're also glad that you can do it," Hollinger said.
  • Four Seasons will be hiring as it brings on new business for the expansion but Hollinger declined to share staffing goals.
  • The company employs 850 people overall.

Anything else: The roof of the new area will be able to accommodate solar panels.
  • The company wants to get the new area up and running before giving a green light to the panels, Hollinger said. " I would say we have every expectation that we would do it."
  • An array of 3,900 solar panels on the company's existing roof fills about 17% of the company's needs on an annual basis. 

The background: Founded in 1976, Four Seasons is comprised of four units: wholesaler Four Seasons Produce; third-party logistics and freight provider Sunrise Logistics; importer Earth Source; and truck-fleet operator Sunrise Transport
  • The company serves an area stretching from Richmond, Virginia, north to Buffalo and Burlington, Vermont and west to Cleveland.

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Quick takes

WHO'S RETIRING: Jon Miles, chairman and CEO of Engle-Hambright & Davies, known as EHD. He plans to step down on Aug. 7 from his CEO role at the insurance agency, which is based in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County. He has been with the company for 24 years but has spent 41 years in the insurance industry overall.
  • The announcement this week is another step in a succession plan that began in January 2020 when Michael Malinowski was named president of EHD.
  • Malinowski will now add CEO to his title.
  • Miles will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors.

WHO'S BUYING NEW SIGNS: Rehabilitation and Community Providers Services Organization, a Harrisburg-based, statewide network of social and human services providers. Founded in 2014, the organization is rebranding as ProVantaCare. The network's providers offer a range of services in behavioral health, drug and alcohol addiction, long-term care, physical disabilities and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • "We have an established track record of relationships with regulators, payers, and other stakeholders, and now we have a new identity that better defines what we do --- and one that our customers and clients can relate to," ProVantaCare chair Susan Blue said in a statement. Blue is owner, president and CEO of Community Services Group, based in Mountville and a shareholder in the network.
  • The provider-owned network partners with managed care organizations to deliver coordinated services. 
  • Other shareholders include Harrisburg-based Goodwill Keystone Area; Lancaster-based T.W. Ponessa & Associates Counseling Services; and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Pennsylvania.

WHAT’S MOVING: A flurry of legislation as state lawmakers prepare for a weeklong recess after Memorial Day. The following bills were among those approved by committees this week, meaning they have a ways to go before they become law -- though some laws could move faster than others.
What’s next: When lawmakers return in June, they will be focused on putting together a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.


WHO'S FLYING HIGH: Utz Brands. The Hanover-based snack maker's potato chips are an official in-flight snack on Breeze Airways, a new domestic airline launched this week by JetBlue founder David Neeleman. The airline will feature a network of 39 nonstop routes between 16 cities across the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast
  • Flights will land in Pittsburgh but not Harrisburg or Philadelphia, according to the airline's website. 
  • Utz is not the only York County brand to make a splash in the air. Chips from Thomasville-based Martin's Potato Chips were served on Air Force One during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.


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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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