SARASOTA, FL, October 5, 2015—One of the largest produce supply companies on the Suncoast is about to get bigger. Sunfresh Produce, which supplies downtown Sarasota restaurants such as Libby’s and Duval’s, has merged with Fort Myers-based Happy Foods of Southwest Florida, a major supplier of resorts, country clubs and restaurants in Lee and Collier counties. The union makes Sunfresh the leading regional produce supplier between Tampa and Naples.
Sunfresh will now be able to offer more options to potential customers who had been out of reach up until now. “It gives us the purchasing power to help keep our prices down, and allows us to compete more effectively for some of the chain restaurants that we couldn’t get before,” says Sunfresh owner Steve Clark.
The circumstances that brought Sunfresh and Happy Foods together made the merger a natural next step for both companies. Clark explains that Sunfresh’s recently renovated and modernized warehouse in Charlotte County was operating well below 100% of its capacity. Happy Foods, on the other hand, was in serious need of greater storage facilities. “Everything around it makes so much sense,” says Happy Foods owner Terry Dean, who will stay on to oversee operations of the bigger, better Sunfresh. “We’re taking the best of his company and the best of mine, and customer service is going to get even better.”
Clark echoes those thoughts. He says the two companies have been able to compete with national suppliers, such as FreshPoint (a division of Sysco), by establishing relationships with local buyers and delivering quality products consistently at reasonable prices. He and Dean have especially enjoyed working closely with premier chefs at the top restaurants and resorts in the area. “That’s the fun part of the business, and it’s an aspect that the national guys just can’t provide,” Clark says.
Clark, who bought Sunfresh four years ago, says that the company has grown its income from about $8 million to $25 million in that time. He estimates Sunfresh could grow its business 10-to-15% per year during the next few years.
“We’re joining these companies together, but we want to keep our customer base,” Clark says. “It’s all about service to our customers.”
Sunfresh Produce (sunfreshfl.com) is headquartered at 3037 S. McCall Road, Englewood, FL, 34224.
Contact Sharyn Vross at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-763-3063.