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Naumes moves into Wenatchee

Buys, will reopen juice company

Naumes Inc. has added another piece to its fruit empire, buying out a recently closed juice concentrate company in Wenatchee, Wash.

The Medford-based company, the nation's largest independent apple and pear grower, purchased Glico Apple Corp. in a deal that closed June 2. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

The plant fills a desire the company has had to expand operations in the Wenatchee region, company officials said Wednesday.

The Glico facility is located in an area where a tremendous amount of fruit is grown, so it makes all the sense in the world, said Gregg Anderson, Naumes' chief financial officer.

Ross Siragusa, who oversees Naumes' concentrate business, said demand for the company's concentrate has outstripped its ability to produce it.

It was basically a demand-driven acquisition, he said.

The company had considered expanding its plant in Wapato (about 90 miles south of Wenatchee) before the Glico plant became competitively priced enough for Naumes to purchase, Siragusa said.

The purchase staves off closure of the plant. Glico, which employed 40 people, ceased production in April, though some employees continued working, overseeing the liquidation of equipment and other closure-related tasks.

Naumes will restore those 40 jobs and plans to add 20 new ones. Siragusa said the plant is scheduled to begin production June 21, though it will take some time before it's running at full capacity.

The acquisition gives Naumes three juice concentrate plants: the Wapato and Wenatchee locations in Washington and a plant in Marysville, Calif.

The Glico plant will produce pear and apple concentrate. The other two plants process a variety of fruits, including apples, pears, apricots, cherries, grapes, kiwis, nectarines, peaches, plums and strawberries.

Naumes has been a fresh-fruit company for most of its existence and all of its Rogue Valley operations are on the orchard side. But since it entered the juice concentrate business in 1992, it has grown into an industry leader.

The company doesn't disclose production levels, but officials did say that the Glico plant will increase its production capacity by about 33 percent.

And, depending on market and harvest conditions in any given year, the concentrate business has represented up to 60 percent of the company's revenues, Siragusa said. Last year, it made up about 55 percent.

Naumes grows only about 10-15 percent of the fruit it makes into concentrate, preferring to sell most of its fruit in the more profitable fresh-fruit market.