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Page 16

Yakima Valley Business Times

March 4 - 18, 2016

AGRICULTURE

Pace International Preserves Fruit Packers Market Edge


Wapato Company Is
A Leader In The Art Of
Keeping Fruit At Its Best

By Randy Luvaas
Managing Editor
By the time you bite into a piece
of fruit, it has been through a lot of
steps from the orchard to your hands.

Trees have been pruned and treated


with fertilizers and other chemicals,
the fruit has been thinned and harvested, sorted, stored and packaged
en route to the grocery store.
And there are other steps that
most of us consumers dont know
about, processes that assure growers
and shippers that their fruit looks,

BOBS SEPTIC........... 509-452-9938


VALLEY SEPTIC ....... 509-248-6810
SELAH SEPTIC ......... 509-697-8898
All Types of Excavating, Septic Tank Installation &
Pumping, Chemical Toilet Rentals, Sales & Service

Before fruit can be sold it goes through many layers of care to ensure it lasts and looks its best. Pace International technicians work with
packing companies to clean and preserve the crops.

Serving the Yakima Valley for over 35


years with the same ownership.

509-248-6810 1-800-522-2664
P.O. Box 10115 Yakima 98909
Bill Mach, owner

Proud to be a Part of the


Local Agriculture Industry!

AG PRO REPAIR & FABRICATION, INC.


Fax: 509-837-4612
Chris Smeenk,
Owner
50 N. McLean Rd.,

Sunnyside
AGPROPR931BR

Phone: 509-840-2420

Apples make their way along the line for cleaning and other treatments, a specialty of Wapatos Pace International. The company makes
and sells both treatment products and the equipment to apply them.

feels and tastes the way customers


expect.
Thats where Pace International of
Wapato comes in.
The core of what we do is to
enhance, protect and preserve the
quality of fruits and vegetables after
harvest, said Ted Nulliner, Paces
sales director for the northern United
States.
Pace International might not be
a household name among consum-

ers, but it is well known within the


fruit industry. From its headquarters
at 5661 Branch Road in Wapato the
company serves customers around
the world, operating three facilities
in Washington state and others as far
away as Chile in South America.
The company has been around
for many years, but really got onto
its current path in 2002, Nulliner
said, when it began to focus on the
postharvest phase of handling fruit.
About two and a half years ago the
company was acquired by Valent
BioSciences of Lybertiville, Ill., and
became a subsidiary of that corporation.
When fruit is harvested it begins
to deteriorate, Nulliner explained.
Our job is to maintain the overall
marketability of the fruit for our customers. Well touch the fruit almost
as soon as it is harvested and taken to
a packing facility. We work with the
fruit from that point really until the
day it is packed in a box and shipped
out.
That involves a lot of specialty
products, treatments and equipment
that the company manufactures,
services and applies.
Many of the products in our
portfolio are manufactured by Pace,
and others by our partners, he said.
We have a comprehensive line
of products for various fruits and
vegetables, including organic and
kosher. Apples, pears, cherries and
potatoes are the big ones we handle

March 4 - 18, 2016

Yakima Valley Business Times

Page 17

AGRICULTURE
in Washington state, Michigan and
the Northeast while our office in
California takes care of citrus fruit,
stone fruit and pomegranates in California, Florida and Texas. Around
here we sell and provide services to
fruit-packing operations that have
trusted in us for years.
It involves more than just manufacturing and selling the products.
We are a service-oriented organization and very professional in what
we do, he pointed out.
There are really six pillars in our
company. We have sales and marketing, R&D, technical services, laboratory services with five PhDs looking at the various aspects of fruit,
equipment services and engineering
designing new equipment for use in
the packing house.
He said Pace makes different
products to enhance and preserve
fruit quality.
Youve gotta have the right product portfolio based on how the fruit
looks when it comes out of storage,
because there are so many different
growing conditions. For example in
late summer we see a lot of calcium
deposits on fruit from where growers
use overhead watering for cooling,
so we have to develop products to
remove that calcium. A lot of our
products are really a reaction to how
the fruit comes in, and that varies
among all the different customers. It
gets very complicated.

Dr. Richard Kim, PhD, plant pathologist with Pace International, tries
to identify a fungus that attacked the fruit. That helps Paces technicians pick the appropriate product to control the disease or keep it from
spreading to healthy fruit in storage.

It gets even more complicated because there are so many varieties of


each type of fruit. Each variety may
use a different type of postharvest
product, he said. What we do, its
highly technical.
Complicating things still more,
fruit shipped to foreign markets must
meet the regulations and restrictions
of that particular country, and theyre
all different.
We have our own regulatory
group that looks at that on a daily basis, he said. For instance, a country
may say you cant import this fruit
because there is this certain kind of
disease, so we have to look at that.
Its very restrictive.

Keeping It Natural
Using natural products is a longtime hallmark of what Pace does, he
points out.
Our goal has always been to
have more natural products. The difficulty is that they are not easy to find
in nature. It requires screening many
natural occurring compounds. Sometimes the outcome is promising and
others not that great. For instance,
they might not provide the dehydration control that we are looking
for or the cost is prohibitive. Many
natural products dont make good
cleaners or sanitizers, and theyre not
great at keeping decay off fruit. So it
is a challenge.

Pace recently announced a


breakthrough product in BioSpectra
100SC, the first natural decay-control
agent for fruit in the last 20 years.
Were constantly trying to meet
the market demand for natural and
organic products but it is very difficult to develop products and get
them registered.
The company has had annual
growth of at least 20 percent for the
past three years, Nulliner said.
The success of our organization
is due to our people and our innovative spirit. Innovation is what drives
our efforts and has allowed us to provide significant employment locally.
I think last year we had about 15
temporary workers for our ecoFOG
and FYSIUM services and this year
well probably be close to 30.
ecoFOG, a process developed in
2005, has been housed since last year
at a facility along Valley Mall Boulevard in Union Gap. The process
uses a fog applied inside controlledatmosphere storage rooms to prevent
fruit decay during storage.
The company employs about
64 people at the Wapato plant and
Union Gap and about nine more at its
service center in Wenatchee.
Each (controlled-atmosphere)
storage room might hold fruit worth
a million dollars, so we want to make
sure people know what theyre doing
to take care of that fruit, said Nulliner.

VK Powell Helps Valleys Agriculture Keep Building


Its a time-proven adage: When
I think.
of VK Powells work is ag-related.
seems to be holding steady, he said.
the Valleys farmers do well, so does
It just seems like wherever you
Were mostly working with the fruit Everybody seems to have a pretty
the rest of the local economy.
look everybody has been having repeople. Were not really doing much
good book of work for this year.
The areas farms and orchards
cord crops and theyre building new
with wineries.
We have some projects coming
have been enjoying
up for Memomostly good times
rial Hospital, plus
for several years
ag work for our
now, which means
usual clients, he
those agricultural
said. Health-care
operators have been
projects have been
able to spend money
on the increase.
on improving their
We have done a
operations buylot with Memoing equipment and
rial over the years
supplies, and in
starting in 1987.
many cases taking
We have worked
on construction projwith Kittitas Valley
ects to grow their
Hospital in Elfacilities, sometimes
lensburg and also
out of necessity to
quite a bit with
keep up with recordSunnyside Hospibreaking crops and
tal, and they have
growing markets.
some big plans that
For construction
are up and comcontractors who
ing.
work with agriculThe company
tural customers,
traces its roots to
thats a huge plus.
local carpenter
General contractor VK Powll Construction of Yakima has established its self as go-to builder for the
Weve been
Yakima Valleys agricultural businesses. Though it does just about all kinds of construction, the company V.K. Powell, who
pretty busy keepstarting in the
says about a third of its work is in agriculture for clients like Zirkle Fruit, shown above.
ing up with their
1940s built and
demands, said Bill
repaired just about
facilities. With spring coming theres
But agricultural work isnt the
Frymier of VK Powell Construction
anything.
The
company
went through
more of that. It hasnt seemed to let
only thing going strong in the Valley
in Yakima.
three generations of family manageup. Its true that if things are good for these days. In general most kinds
The apple folks have been adding ag its good for the Valley.
ment before being sold to Frymier
of construction have been looking
cold storage and controlled-atmoFrymier, co-owner of the conhealthy after several bleak years dur- and Elkey several years ago.
sphere storage, and that has stayed
By then it had carved out several
struction firm with partner Bob Elkey ing the most recent recession.
pretty steady. The ag construction
niches
in the construction field, spesince 2007, figures that about a third
Construction has come back and
seems to be keeping everybody busy,
Continued on page 18