Seaquists Orchards Expansion Adds Efficiency

A new production facility next to Seaquist Farm Market in Sister Bay houses 15,000 square feet of space used for sorting apples, pressing juice, canning fruit and seizing opportunity.

“To appreciate this you’ve got to see where we came from,” said Dale Seaquist.

Dale Seaquists stands beside an old-fashioned press that occupies the observation room for the new facility, adding some perspective on where the company came from and where they are headed. Photo by Len Villano.

And you can, in the observation room where visitors can watch while the machines buzz and process crates of fruit. In that room there’s an old juicer, which Dale said took six people to make 60 gallons of juice. Compare that to the new machine that takes two people to create 4,000 to 5,000 gallons a day, and it’s no question that fruit production has changed.

“That’s the way everything is around here,” Dale said. “Trying to modernize and get a little more efficiency.”

Seaquist Orchards built the facility this year and began using it in May. Finally housing all the production activities in the same building helped increase the business’s efficiency. Now instead of trucking canned goods from the canning facility in Egg Harbor north to the farm market, the finished jars of jams and jellies go right to the shelves next door.

Seaquist Orchards purchased Dixie’s Homestyle Preserves in 2010, and in 2011 sold 45,000 jars of chopped cherry jam. Employees like Lisa Seaquist worked in the small Egg Harbor space to learn the canning trade before the company built a new facility, so they knew exactly what to build.

The new facility’s canning area connects old recipes with new hardware. Canning is still done in small batches in hot water baths, but in a spacious, clean area with plenty of storage and room to grow.

Building space to store fruit and processed goods was an important element to the new facility. The freezers at the farm market used to be the only Seaquist Orchards had, and those only had space for about nine pallets worth of goods. The new freezer can hold over 200 palettes, about 500,000 pounds of product.

The new production facility at Seaquists Orchards includes plenty of space to store fruit. Photo by Len Villano.

That’s in addition to a cooler, now stacked with huge boxes of apples.

Jim Seaquist said building a large facility with tall doors and plenty of open space leaves the business with options and opportunities to grow.

“I think we wished for having some newer things for a long time,” Jim said.

To show off the new facility and thank the community for being open to the expansion, Seaquist Orchards is having a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 am to 4 pm in Sister Bay. There will be guided tours through the production facility, discounts in the farm market, pictures of past construction and samples of Seaquist products.