Madam Speaker. I rise today to honor and congratulate Fruit Growers Supply Company as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Fruit Growers Supply Company was born out of adversity. Organized in 1907 by the members of the Southern California Fruit Growers Exchange (now known as Sunkist Growers) it owes its beginnings to the infamous 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Following that disaster, the demand for lumber for rebuilding increased dramatically--and lumber used (or citrus crates became very scarce and very expensive. The Exchange members formed a separate cooperative, Fruit Growers Supply, to assure the availability of the materials needed to grow, harvest, package and ship it member's citrus.
FGS worked with small lumber companies to obtain boxes at a reasonable cost. As citrus production increased, Fruit Growers continued to expand, purchasing additional timberlands in Northern California. While FGS no longer owns any sawmills, it still is one of the largest private landowners in California, with additional recently acquired holdings in Oregon and Washington.
In 1916, to meet the growing needs of its members, FGS opened its first Operations Center in Porterville to warehouse supplies needed for the citrus industry. Today, FGS has six Operations Centers throughout the growing regions of California and Arizona available to serve its grower and packer members.
In the early 1950s the citrus industry began replacing the standard wooden box with fiberboard cartons. In 1961, FGS built its first carton plant to assure its members of a lower cost, higher quality container in which to ship their Sunkist citrus. Today, FGS' highly efficient corrugated manufacturing plant in Ontario, California produces millions of cartons, not only for Sunkist citrus, but for other agricultural producers as well.
FGS' member support continues to expand as needs change. When citrus growers needed efficient water delivery systems, they turned to FGS to design the systems and provide technical support. FGS now is one of the irrigation leaders in agriculture.
FGS also owns a manufacturing facility through a subsidiary, United Wholesale Lumber Company, in Visalia, California. United is one of the largest suppliers of pallets to the West Coast shipping industry. In 2002, FGS acquired a group which provides wax and related equipment and services to the agricultural industry. Renamed FGS Packing Services, the groups business grew 50 percent in its first 3 years with FGS.
Fruit Growers' proud heritage and ongoing efforts to best serve the needs of its members, and the agricultural community, stand it in good stead for its next 100 years.
I ask all members to join me in honoring Fruit Growers Supply Company upon the celebration of its centennial and in commending Fruit Growers for its past and present commitment to providing services and support to the agricultural community.
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