A M King Mobilizes on Largest Avocado Ripening and Processing Facility in the U.S.

Staff Report

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Carolinas-based A M King, an integrated Design-Build firm with an established presence in the Upstate, has begun construction of a 262,000-square-foot ripening and cold storage distribution center in Laredo, Texas for Mission Produce Inc., the world’s largest grower, packer, and shipper of Hass avocados.  Recently, A M King designed and constructed a smaller-scale cold storage distribution center in Charlotte, North Carolina for another West Coast-based company, Henry Avocado Corporation.

“We are happy to join Mission Produce in the design and construction of the largest avocado plant in the country,” says A M King Vice President Dan Crist. “Our food industry expertise, coupled with our track record of successfully completed cold storage and distribution projects, makes this an ideal partnership.”

Mission Produce’s new mega-facility will be located in Laredo’s Pinnacle Industry Center on 32.6 acres adjacent to the Rio Grande River and the Mexican Border. It will allow the company to capitalize on the continued popularity of its signature product in the nation’s busiest land port. Mission plans to initially hire 75 employees when the project is complete in May 2021.

Mission Produce, founded in 1983, owns and operates state-of-the-art avocado packing facilities in multiple global locations, including California, Mexico and Peru. Hass avocados are grown in these tropical and subtropical climates, with each tree producing between 150 and 500 avocados per year. In addition, the company’s distribution network includes 11 forward distribution centers in North America, China and Europe. All facilities are GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certified and are fully compliant with regulations such as FSMA, SFCR, HACCP and the Codex Alimentarius. The new distribution facility in Laredo will be its largest to date, eclipsing the company’s headquarters facility in Oxnard, California by nearly 50,000 square feet.

“The Laredo, Texas facility will shorten our replenishment time to our network and add flexibility in managing inventory,” said Mission Produce’s President and CEO Steve Barnard. “The City of Laredo is strategically positioned on the border of Texas and Mexico, making it an ideal location for the distribution of Mexican avocados into the United States. By investing in Laredo, we are redoubling our commitment to serving customers, providing value-added services, creating jobs, and leading the avocado industry.”

Project Description

A M King provided Mission Produce with full site consultancy services, which included analysis of the property currently needed by the business today, as well as for future planned expansions. Mission Produce required as much flexibility as possible while still incorporating easily adaptable economical infrastructure and layout. A M King also worked in tandem with Mission Produce to determine adequate site infrastructure requirements for securing local economic development incentives.

Additionally, A M King managed the complicated process of acquiring the site while meeting all zoning and municipal ordinances specific to site development of greenfield land in the City of Laredo. Working together with A M King, Mission Produce was able to execute the property purchase of the best possible location for this advanced, world-class facility to begin development within an accelerated time period.

Like any food facility that A M King designs and builds, putting sanitary design measures in place is paramount. In this facility, there will be a number of elements with this focus, including floor drains for room washing and washable surfaces (concrete floor, IMP walls); structural steel tubes in lieu of W beams (avoiding surfaces for dust collecting), and installation of sinks in the packaging areas. In addition, several sustainability processes will be implemented, such as rainwater management, heat island reduction, daylighting and focus on energy performance.

During construction, A M King will enforce new safety policies and procedures for infectious diseases in accordance with CDC and OSHA recommendations, as well as local and state requirements. Some of those include temperature checks, social distancing, use of masks and gloves, handwashing stations and limiting group gatherings.

The scope of work on this project will include design and construction of ripening rooms; coolers; forced air cooler; cooler dock; dry goods storage; a bagging and production area; offices and dispatch; Border Patrol office; and USDA office.

Functionality is the focus on all operational areas, such as storage, staging, ripening, packaging, shipping and receiving. All the rooms are designed to facilitate company processes from receipt of the avocados from growers to delivery to vendors. The main office and the shipping office feature unique aesthetics and are designed with large open areas for offices and employee welfare. Broad views will be enjoyed through curtain walls and over the balcony of the two main sides of the building, including the dock. There will be an interesting combination of volumes with intersecting angles.