Sponsored by Lane Powell

Onion King

| Print |  Email
Articles - November/December 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
1113 Tactics 02
1113 Tactics 03
// Photos by Sierra Breshears

In total, River Point grows about 6,000 acres of onions per year, utilizing a land base of about 85,000 acres from strategic partners, including longtime Umatilla farmer Bob Levy and sister company Hale Farms, a diversified farming operation that grows carrots, peas, corn, potatoes and blueberries, and is also controlled by the Hale brothers. Collectively, Hale Farms and River Point employ about 670 full-time workers and process about 1,500 W2s annually.

The in-house farmer network is one example of River Point’s vertically integrated strategy. The company also operates its own packaging and processing facilities — “and puts the seed in the soil,” says Hale. Such “source-based” practices have become increasingly important as food-safety issues take center stage, he says. “National brands now want to contract directly with the growers. They want to understand the entire supply chain.”

Nurturing close relationships with customers also creates efficiencies, an important aspect of doing business in an industry that competes largely on cost. River Point asks customers what they want before planting, prioritizes tightly managed supply chains, and prides itself on consistently delivering 180 semi-truckloads per week on time.

About that buyback deal: In 2007 the Hale brothers sold a controlling interest in River Point to the Dallas-based private equity firm, CIC Partners. The recent purchase, which wrapped in Salinas-based Taylor Farms and several other investors and partners, allowed the Hales to take back controlling interest. “We are Oregonians; we love the company,” says Hale, adding that the purchase puts River Point “in local hands to make local decisions.”

The ownership structure will enable River Point to begin expanding their retail business with Taylor Farms and Curry & Company in Brooks. The onion grower will also update facilities to meet the needs of contract customers and the new retail operations.

Expansion is on the horizon. But even as River Point tackles new initiatives, the grower is immersed in a longstanding battle: lobbying for a larger share of irrigation water from the Columbia River to fuel economic development in the Umatilla Basin region. River Point’s center pivot irrigation systems save millions of gallons of water per year, Hale is careful to note. “But we’re fighting for a way of life in Hermiston,” he says. “And it doesn’t exist without water.”

Finding enough available irrigated land to grow the company is one of River Point’s constant challenges. Yet the water wars don’t faze Hale, who continues to build his privately held, family-controlled onion empire layer by layer. “I love onions,” he says. “I’m passionate about the food industry. And I love what we do: grow food to feed people.”



 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Great articleGuest 2013-11-12 21:46:28
It is good that River Farms is working on this. Great article and thanks for sharing.

Regards
Rod
https://www.theadvisorcenter.com/
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Green Rush: Cashing in on legal marijuana

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Marijuana is big business in Oregon, and it’s about to get bigger.


Read more...

2015 100 Best companies announced

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 0022cneditBY OB STAFF

The 100 Best list recognizes large, medium and small companies for excellence in work environment, management and communications, decision-making and trust, career development and learning, and benefits and compensation.


Read more...

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...

6 chiefs of staff dish on their bosses

The Latest
Thursday, February 05, 2015
legilistiblog-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS