Michigan-based Vine Line Logistics LLC, Heeren Bros. Inc., and Walsma & Lyons are joining forces and rebranding their companies as Vine Line Produce Distribution, positioning the new organization to become one of the Midwest’s leading refrigerated transportation companies. The merged business lines include Vine Line Logistics, Vine Line Trucking, Walsma & Lyons and Heeren Bros. Produce.
“Based on shared vision, values and strengths, the merger between Heeren Bros. and Walsma & Lyons is a dynamic move,” said Joseph D’Ottavio, CEO of Vine Line Produce Distribution. “We are excited about the strategic advantages of working together while building on core competencies to pursue future growth.”
Each business included in the merger is family-owned and -operated, with roots in the western Michigan region. Heeren Bros. was founded in 1933, while both Walsma & Lyons and Vine Line Logistics were founded in 1955.
“The transportation landscape is ripe for a company that is willing and able to invest in multiple distribution facilities, truck and trailer assets to support their brokerage division,” said Steven Lyons, senior director of Vine Line Logistics. “Our merger with Heeren Bros. combines the strengths and resources of two great companies to make us even more agile in meeting changing transportation needs.”
As part of the restructuring, Vine Line Logistics sold its office in Byron Center, Michigan, and now operates out of Vine Line Produce Distribution headquarters in Comstock Park, Michigan. The facility is a 180,000-s.f., LEED Certified complex that combines wholesale distribution, cold storage and packaging. Vine Line’s second 46,000-s.f. facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, continues to provide direct distribution into central Midwest and western markets.
“Vine Line has always built upon our roots and knowledge of the produce industry to find a better way to transport product and respond to customer needs,” Lyons said. “Continued investment in technology and other resources will make us even more effective in managing complex shipments on time, around the clock and across the country.”
In addition to its facilities, the new company has a fleet of more than 50 company-owned pieces of equipment, a nationwide network of brokered refrigerated carriers and owner-operators that cover the continental United States.
The merger is a dynamic move on many levels, according to Joseph D’Ottavio, CEO of Vine Line Produce Distribution.
“As the produce industry continues to contend with the impact of new trucking regulations, timely, efficient and innovative new solutions have never been more important,” D’Ottavio said. “Vine Line is extremely well-positioned and focused on providing them.”