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Made in Idaho: Fruitland packing company going strong

Henggeler Packing Company ships around the country
Posted at 10:49 AM, Sep 22, 2023

FRUITLAND, Idaho — From apples to peaches and plums, a fruit packing company located appropriately in Fruitland has been a big part of the Payette County community since 1943. It takes a lot of time and patience to plant the seed and see it grow into a multi-state operation.

The Henggeler Packing Company keeps busy growing, packing, and shipping their Fortress Brand worldwide. Kelly Henggeler explains why the Fortress.

"It was based on the Fortress Bombers that flew during World War II. I think we had some relatives over in Europe that were somewhat involved in that," explained Henggeler.

Now in their 80th year in business, the Henggeler family ships their fruit around the state and around the country. The operation started as a very modest packing company in a building and sawdust room where they could keep things cool along the railroad tracks, still located next to their current facility.

Henggeler is quick to point out that without the over one hundred loyal full and seasonal workers the operation would come to a grinding halt.

"We couldn't do it without them, Don, if we didn't have this program we wouldn't be having this conversation."

The program Kelly is referring to is H-2A. H-2A is a temporary agricultural workers program that helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries.

Henggeler says the program really never took off out West until eight or nine years ago out of necessity. They didn't have the labor. I asked Kelly if he's ever had the problem
of having too many workers?

"No, I don't know what that looks like," he replied.

Kelly can tell you what good apples and peaches look like. Just take a bite.