With a passion for food.
Our story doesn't begin with success, or fruit. Our story is similar to many. We started a business to take care of ourselves, and our family. To do something we enjoyed at the same time. In 1981, my grandfather opened a little restaurant in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. It was ours. Our family worked hard, but life in restaurants is never easy. We all recognized the need to consider other options, to think outside the box. To continue doing something we loved, and continue providing for our family.
Tree-Ripe Citrus Co. was founded in 1990, not because we knew how it would turn out. Or because we had a grand business plan. It was because we realized that something was missing here in the arctic winter months in Wisconsin. We love it here. We love the people, the businesses, and the commitment to supporting our local communities and farms. Yet, we knew that there are some things we just aren't able to grow and nurture here. The question became, how can you identify the people who growing the best quality products, and then bring it to Wisconsin.
My grandfather, who had been working with citrus growers in Florida, saw a considerable difference in the quality of what was being grown and what was available in grocery stores back home. The best quality citrus was only available by mail order. With it came extremely high prices to have it shipped. In order to provide their customers with a wide selection of products, a grocery store has to contend with a supply chain, distribution warehouses, cold storage, and many other concerns. But we wanted the best, to have that same amazing piece of fruit that you could get at the farm. We wanted to be able to deliver that to our home state. That’s how we got our start, and why we still bring the fruit that we do.
We sold our restaurant, and my grandfather took his experience and combined it with our knowledge and expertise in logistics. Then we headed to Florida. We didn't want to focus on many products. We focused on just a few, making sure they were the best quality possible. And our customers could quickly see the difference in the fruit they picked up at our truck. That soon led us to bringing Georgia peaches in the summer, Georgia pecans in the winter, and eventually Michigan blueberries.
By working directly with our farmers, they have the confidence to let their fruit develop to maturity. They do not pick for the sole purpose of having "shelf life". This is because their fruit isn’t going to be in cold storage for a month, it’s coming directly to you. Most often we can have our fruit in your hands mere days after it was swinging on a tree. That means, what you get tastes like real fruit. The way it used to be. The way it's supposed to be.
That being said, to bring you the freshest, best tasting fruits you may ever eat, it became a pretty large undertaking. So we got the whole family involved….and more. We understand that to get a perfect peach or orange into your hands, we need to strive for perfection. Every step along the way, from picking and packing, how it’s handled in transit, and loaded on our trucks we’re making sure that you are getting the best product that can be grown. There is nothing better to us than seeing our customers coming up to the truck, knowing they are getting something this special. Think of it as a little less traditional "farm to table" concept, or a different breed of food truck. We’re just a little bit different, we know.
We hope that you enjoy the products we bring as much as we do. We really can't wait to share it with you, and we'll see you at the truck!
- Tiernan Paine, COO