Business of the Year: Heartland Produce Co.

Heartland Produce Company 5814 104th Ave., Kenosha Industry: Produce Wholesaler Employees: 214

Hartland Produce 5814 104th Ave., Kenosha industry: Production Wholesaler employee: 214

Kenosha-based Heartland Produce Co., a full-service, family-owned wholesaler, was named Business of the Year by the Kenosha Regional Business Alliance as part of its Ovation Awards program. The company sells to independent grocers and national chains through its Organic Indeed and Fresh Indeed brands.

Bill Dietz
Bill Dietz

Bill Dietz, president of Heartland Produce, said: “We’re in the fresh produce business, so everything we do…end users need to enjoy what they’re buying from us, and families have to enjoy healthy product.”

Founded in 1989 in Elgin, Illinois, Heartland Produce officially relocated its operations to the Kenosha Industrial Park in 1994. The company is owned by third and fourth generation family members. From the time the company first moved to Kenosha, the community has been welcoming, Dietz said.

In 2021, Heartland Produce broke ground on a new 205,000-square-foot facility in Kenosha’s Greeneway Corporate Park, a significant increase from the company’s original 40,000-square-foot location.

Heartland acquired 31 acres of land for the project on the former Dairyland Greyhound Park dogway site in June 2021 for $5.29 million.

The $29 million investment provides the company with a modern distribution facility and room for future growth. The new factory was officially completed this spring, and all employees moved in May. Heartland also recently invested more than $1 million to bring new equipment to the facility.

“Our business has continued to grow every year. In about four or five years, we’ve reached the limit of space. This is what we’ve been doing over a period of time, maybe years before COVID-19,” Dietz said. .

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the company decided to move forward with its expansion plans. Heartland Produce didn’t have as many supply chain issues as other companies, but did struggle for a while with skyrocketing shipping rates at the time. Dietz said his priority is to adjust employee practices to keep employees safe amid the global pandemic.

In Heartland’s warehouse, workstations have been rearranged to be six feet apart and a mask policy has been implemented. Employees who do not absolutely need to be in the warehouse can also choose to work from home.

“The biggest concern is how to make sure everyone in the workplace is safe and avoid a massive COVID-19 outbreak in our warehouses,” Dietz said.

Heartland Produce is also actively involved in the Kenosha community. One of its flagship charities is the Heartland Children’s Foundation, established in 2014. Through annual golf outings, Heartland Produce raises funds, which are then donated to organizations that help children and families. Organizations that have received donations in the past include the Kenosha YMCA, Women’s and Children’s Horizon, and the Shalom Center.

“We raise money for good. I’ve always believed that children are our best asset, and it’s the best thing we can do moving forward…Do anything to keep them healthy, successful, protected…all of which keep children Grow into a successful adult,” Dietz said.

As the company continued to grow, it also added an organic line. With the addition of two stylish packers and a gyro bagger, Heartland can custom pack and bag products through its two brands.

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