New Southern California company offers storage, repack services for imported produce

Cool-Pak Solutions LLC, located in Carson, CA, in close proximity to the port of Los Angeles and the port of Long Beach, is a newly formed company offering cold storage, packing and repacking services for imported fruit and other fresh produce "from all over the world," according to company President Steven Karo. The company started in July.

"All we do is handle produce," he said. "Our customers are primarily importers, and we service people Cool-Pak---Steve-KaroSteve Karo in the new Cool-Pak Solutions AmeriFresh, Giumarra, LGS and Earthbound Farms, just to name a few."

Cool-Pack Solutions is located on a 53-acre campus run by FCL Logistics Ltd., Mr. Karo told The Produce News Sept. 21. "We will occupy, when we are fully built out, about 91,000 square feet of cold-storage space," with an option to expand that to 174,000 square feet. About 51,000 square feet of the build-out was complete, and "by Dec. 31, we should be reaching our capacity of 91,000 square feet. Then we will start our building program" for the remaining portion of the building.

Initially, the facility will have 10 separate climate-controlled rooms with the capability of changing the temperature in any room within one hour, he said. "We have a refrigerated cold dock. At present we have 10 doors," which will be expanded to 18 when the facility is fully built-out.

"We are putting in a new state-of-the-art racking system," Mr. Karo explained. It is a system initially developed in Europe and later used in Canada. "We are probably the second company to install it" in the United States.

"We have a full packaging or repacking facility here, with trained people that have been doing it from eight to 10 years," Mr. Karo said. "We know fruit and pack everything from cherries to clementines on automated machines. "We pack clamshells, we pack bags, we pack net bags. We can pack anything that needs to be packed, and we can supply the quality control before it goes into the package for the customer."

Cool-Pak Solutions is a full-service operation, he said. Because of the location on the FCL complex, "we have [U.S. Customs & Border Protection] inspections on the property. We have import-export fumigation provided by Southern Fume Co. on the property," as well as cargo expediting, he said. "FCS Logistics does their own trucking, so we can arrange for pulling out of the port or going to the port, [and] we can arrange for product to be brought to us from anywhere in the western United States."

Cool-Pak Logistics is "probably the first of its kind that has all of the facilities on one property," Mr. Karo said. "There is no charge for moving between warehouses and inspection or warehouses and fumigation, so it saves our customers hundreds of dollars in transportation costs."

The facility has "full security" with 24-hour guard gates. "We are Primus audited and QAI certified" and are participants in international food-safety and security initiatives. "We handle organics, [and] we have our own quality control department, so that we can do exams in-house with our own inspectors. So we provide the full gamut of opportunities" for customers.

Mr. Karo, who is one of the owners of the company along with an investment group, has been in the perishable food business for 50 years -- starting in fresh seafood at the age of 18 -- and in the produce business for 10 of those years.

"I have worked in Costa Rica and Nicaragua in produce, and now in the United States," he said.

FCL Logistics will have a booth at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit expo in Anaheim in October, Mr. Karo said. "We will have representatives there" and will also have an open house "to show off our new facility" on Friday, Oct. 26 and Monday, Oct. 29.