Twenty-five years ago, Riveridge was founded by three partners who shared a background in Michigan produce and the grocery industry – and a vision for a different way of doing business.
“Our defining quality is that we understood how customers judged performance, as we had been on that side. And we also understood the needs of the grower and packing facility side of the business,” says Riveridge president Don Armock.
“When we started out, we basically tried to match very progressive, top-drawer growers who were often introducing premium varieties, with customers who wanted that level of apple,” he says.
In 1990, the founding partners – Don Armock, Roger Geers and the late Dan Rock, Sr. – began Riveridge Produce in a three-room rented office in Grant, Michigan, 10 miles north of current corporate headquarters.
Working with the Best
Over the years, the company has aligned with 117 of the best apple growers in Michigan and Wisconsin, along with seven of the best packing facilities. The varietal mixes and packing practices evolve annually to better serve Riveridge customers’ needs.
The company has also diversified geographically, with orchards from Berrien Springs to blocks north of Traverse City, plus Wisconsin. This ensures apple supplies no matter what Mother Nature pulls out of her bag.
Riveridge Land Company
In 1995, Riveridge completed its quest for vertical integration by planting its first orchards and managing orchards for a few other growers. Today Riveridge Land Company has 860 acres of apples, including a new high-tech spindle-and-V trellis orchard planted not far from the company’s founding roots in Grant, Michigan.
Riveridge Packing Company
Other significant milestones include the 2010 opening of the state-of-the-art Riveridge Packing facility just outside Sparta, Michigan, and updates to the sales offices on Fruit Ridge Avenue in the heart of Michigan’s apple country. In 2012, Riveridge opened Fruit Ridge Farm Market & U-Pick in rural Sparta.
Innovation and a focus on the customer have attracted attention from growers and produce buyers, alike. Today, Riveridge represents nearly 40 percent of Michigan’s fresh apple crop, and is leading the way in food safety, new orchard technology, and innovation in sales and marketing.