Four Seasons Produce, Inc. recently invited Harvest Market Staff to Ephrata, Pennsylvania, for a tour of their 240,600 square-foot refrigerated distribution center (with attached corporate office). Four Seasons Produce Inc. supplies about 85% of the Certified Organic produce at Harvest Market Natural Foods, and we have had an excellent long standing relationship since Harvest Market first opened. Naturally, our produce team was thrilled to visit, and our staff’s accounting of their experience:
Now, I already knew that I loved Four Seasons as a company. They’ve always gone above and beyond in all of their business practices, as well as their high standard for consistency in both product quality and customer service. From Delivery Drivers to Sales Reps, I have never had an issue with the way they do business. It’s coherent, pleasant and assuring. But we had no idea that Four Seasons Produce, Inc. is a currently a leader in sustainable business practices among companies in the United States.
They have introduced countless programs to conserve resources and energy (including a partnership with Energy Star), leading to a reduction of electricity usage by 16% and a waste diversion rate of over 90% (through recycling). Thanks to the many efforts the company employs, Four Seasons Produce avoids releasing over 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
Special energy management software in the refrigeration system, florescent lighting retrofit, and a state of the art electric-power quality improvement system helps them to eliminate voltage surges, reduce electrical equipment maintenance and balance currents. In 2008 alone, their efforts reduced the facility’s total electric bill by 24%. The company has reduced their power usage by 1.5 million annual kWh since 2006. Rain-water is also filtered and used throughout the facility, annually saving 1.6 million gallons of water use. And the list goes on.
6,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions are now avoided, 1.2 million miles of delivery trucks has been eliminated (due to routing and delivery improvements), and their natural gas usage has been reduced 56%. Leftover oil from trucks is used to help heat the building in the winter, with generators running in the summer to avoid eating too much power off of Ephrata’s grid (since everyone is running Air Conditioners in the summer, so the local demand for electricity is higher). They do this not only to promote a value on ethical procedures throughout the industry, but also for the region in which their building is physically located. It’s a rare thing to see that kind of thing in companies these days, let alone a major food distributor to areas from Vermont to Virginia.
And as if that weren’t enough, everyone in the entire building seems quite happy to be there. When we arrived, they had a sign out front which read, “Welcome Harvest Market.” The receptionists then gave us a genuinely warm welcome, along with our guest passes. Everyone we met was both friendly and engaging. From Chairman and Founder David L. Hollinger, to the men and women breaking down cardboard. It is as if the building itself is alive with a sense of advantageous altruism. From the efficiency and geniality of the forklift operators to the structures and systems in which they work, the pragmatic integrity being employed is simply breathtaking.
Four Seasons Produce, Inc. is the kind of company anyone would want to align themselves with, and all of us at Harvest Market Natural Foods are thrilled and honored to continue to cultivate such a wonderful relationship with them.