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Merger creates major player in the Midwest

Michigan-based Heeren Bros. Inc. and Walsma & Lyons announces a joint-venture merger that positions the new organization to become one of the Midwest’s leading full-service produce and distribution, brokerage, refrigerated transportation and logistics companies.merf

Re-branded as Vine Line Produce Distribution, the companies’ combined business lines include Heeren Bros. Produce, Vine Line Logistics, Vine Line Trucking and Walsma & Lyons.

“Based on shared vision, values and strengths, the merger between Heeren Bros. and Walsma & Lyons is a dynamic move,” said Joseph D’Ottavio, chief executive officer of Vine Line Produce Distribution. “We are excited about the strategic advantages of working together, while building on core competencies to pursue future growth.”

Like Heeren Bros., Walsma & Lyons is a family-owned-and-operated business with deep roots in the western Michigan region. Founded in 1955, it is a produce brokerage distribution business that provides a full line of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as tailored solutions for meeting customers’ unique needs. Company owner Gary Lyons has over 40 years of experience in all aspects of the produce industry.

“The produce and transportation landscape is ripe for a company that is willing and able to invest in multiple distribution facilities. Vine Line Produce Distribution has never been more agile and focused on meeting customers’ produce and transportation needs in an ever-changing market,” said Lyons, president of Vine Line Produce Distribution.

Headquartered in Comstock Park, MI, Vine Line Produce Distribution operates out of a 180,000-square-foot LEED certified, state-of-the-art facility that combines wholesale distribution with cold storage and packaging. A second 46,000-square-foot facility in Cedar Rapids, IA, provides direct distribution into central Midwest and Western markets.

Established in 1933, Heeren Bros. has a long history in produce distribution, as well as strong partnerships with Michigan apple growers in packing, shipping and storing the state’s largest fruit crop. The company is currently owned by 42 North Partners, a Grand Rapids private equity firm that guided the recent merger with Vine Line Logistics. 42 North Partners is led by Mike and Sue Jandernoa. It invests in projects that provide a catalyst for the growth and vitality of the entrepreneurial community with a focus on western Michigan.