A M King has begun construction of a USDA-certified, greenfield distribution facility for Combs Wholesale Produce Co. The 40,000-sf structure, when complete, will allow the company to move to a larger, more modern space and capitalize on its expanding product lines and customer base. The project is scheduled to be complete by April 2021.
Combs Wholesale Produce, founded in 1945, is a full-service supplier of fresh produce, dry goods and nostalgic items such as old-fashioned candies and glass-bottle sodas. Throughout the year, the company stocks more than 1,500 different local, regional and international items onsite for distribution. Customers include wholesalers and food service companies, grocery stores and retail markets across Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. All products are also available direct to the consumer for "cash and carry" at competitive, wholesale prices.
The company has outgrown the original Combs Wholesale Produce facility that was built in 1978 and the Owners were ready to move into a new facility that would handle both current business and future growth. “Our current facility was built to sort and store tomatoes,” explains Ben Combs, Vice President, Combs Wholesale Produce Co. “As our customer base has changed, volume increased and we added additional products, we quickly ran out of room to handle the increased demand.”
While most new perishable facilities are constructed outside of cities, this facility will be built within the Winston-Salem city limits. It will be situated on 10.75 acres in the Brookwood Business Park off James Gold Memorial Expressway, adjacent to Piedmont Park and one mile from the Smith Reynolds Airport.
The design phase of this project kicked off in March, just as the coronavirus was beginning to spread in the U.S. However, A M King’s close collaboration with the Owner via frequent online meetings proved more efficient than waiting to schedule in-person meetings. Design highlights include creation of a unique conditioned dock for displaying and selling fresh produce to the public. Customers can back up their cars to the drive-through doors right off the parking lot for easy loading. Sanitary design measures included locating slot drains and sloped floors to eliminate standing water in produce storage areas. In addition, hot water and floor sinks were provided in the repacking area for regular washdown.
“We are thrilled to be working for our new client, Combs Wholesale Produce Co. in Winston-Salem,” says Dan Crist, A M King Vice President of Operations. “As the majority of the facility is perishable, this is exactly the type of project that showcases our Design-Build expertise of food processing and food distribution facilities.”
The scope of work on this project includes seven refrigerated spaces that range from 36- to 60 degrees: dry storage ranging from 50- to 75-degrees and 14 dock positions. The nearly 4,000-sf main office includes client entry; conference room; breakroom, restrooms and locker rooms; closed, open and flex offices with cubicles and millwork storage; maintenance area and a command center/shipping and receiving area. The second floor of the facility is unfinished, to be used as office storage until future office expansion is needed.
Additional project highlights include utilizing a rack system for refrigeration, clear height 32’ for maximum product storage and LED light fixtures.
During construction, A M King has enforced new safety policies and procedures for infectious diseases in accordance with CDC and OSHA recommendations, as well as local and state requirements. Some of those include daily temperature checks, social distancing, use of masks and portable sanitation stations.
“My father, Benny and I have been pleased with the entire process so far,” says Ben Combs. “From initial meetings to concerns about layout and city regulations to coordination with third-party vendors, the A M King team has been communicative and great to work with through all challenges, including COVID-19.”