For a new company to survive its first 10 years in business in the Nogales produce industry is not an easy task, observed Jose Luis Obregon, president of IPR Fresh, which was founded initially as a brokerage in 2003.
IPR has continued to grow its business, and “we have a steady plan of growth” for the future. It is “nothing too outrageous,” he said, but “we want to continue steady growth which hopefully will keep us here for the long term.”
The company has evolved from being purely a broker to becoming increasingly involved on the shipping side, explained Mr. Obregon, who joined his brothers, founders Alvarez and Enrique, and his father, Francisco Obregon, in the family business three months ago.
IPR is now putting a strong focus on bell peppers and has established several direct grower deals. “This year, we have increased our bell pepper offerings,” Mr. Obregon said. “We have added a couple of growers, and that is going very well.”
The company established its first grower deals for bell peppers a couple of years ago, with production in Culiacan, Sinaloa, and in the state of Jalisco. The Jalisco production “is an early start,” Mr. Obregon said. “That is what we get here in September, October, November and December.” The Culiacan production then kicks in and continues into the summer.
“Hopefully we will have some additional volume this summer with the bell peppers that will keep us going for the months of June and July,” he said. Last summer was “not a good example,” he said, “but the previous year we had bell peppers throughout the summer here in Nogales.”
Transportation becomes something of a challenge during the summer in Nogales, he said, “but still we were able to move some products.”
The summer production will come from Jalisco. “During the summer months, Culiacan is very hot, and Jalisco has cooler weather, which allows them to produce during those months,” he said. The company’s bells in Jalisco are grown in state-of-the-art greenhouses.
“We handle all three colors — yellow, orange and red,” Mr. Obregon continued. “We also have a small green bell pepper deal that we are bringing this season.”
Also new for the company this year will be a spring watermelon deal out of Sonora. George Hardwick, who joined the company last fall, and who was previously with the Al Harrison Co., has experience in the watermelon deal. “We are looking to increase our watermelon offerings for the spring period,” and hopefully also for the summer with production out of the Phoenix, AZ, area, he said. That was not yet finalized, but “we are looking into it as a possibility and still evaluating. We feel that with George’s expertise and what he brings to the company, that might be the way to go.”
IPR Fresh continues to broker other Nogales produce items. “We continue doing the brokering and all the mixers and offering the one-stop consolidation. We have our refrigerated bobtail trucks that go out with QCs and select the product, so that they receive the proper product in the proper condition that they have requested.”
Last fall, IPR moved its offices to a new location next to its warehouse in the Rio Rico [AZ] Industrial Park.