Traverse City, Michigan
Every spring, acres of trees bursting with fragrant white blossoms transform the rolling hills that rise from the shores of Lake Michigan.
And every summer, working in the heat of July and August, harvesters go into those hills and bring back some 40 million pounds of tart cherries. Despite that regularity, the cherry business has evolved.
Shoreline Fruit’s roots go back to 1969, when the Gregory and Veliquette families began growing, harvesting and selling cherries. Over the years, the growers evolved their businesses, adding pitting operations before selling the fruit to other processors. In 2008, the businesses moved to add value to their product by processing all of its finished goods. Today, a majority of Shoreline’s cherry crop becomes dried fruit sold under the Cherry Bay Orchards brand.
Upgrading and evolving
Facilities’ upgrades require capital. Shoreline turned to East Lansing, Michigan-based GreenStone Farm Credit Services, which has helped with Shoreline’s lending and leasing needs. Relationship manager Jeff Sommerfield has worked with the family for several years.
“It is a pleasure to work with Shoreline Fruit through the years,” said Sommerfield. “I’m pleased GreenStone is able to partner with them and support their business advancements.”
Farm Credit is there to help
In 2016, when Shoreline sought to upgrade outdated infusion equipment used in the drying process, Greenstone brought in CoBank Farm Credit Leasing (FCL) to help arrange a $3.78 million lease for the high-tech, automated infusion line.
“We decided it made more sense to choose a lease rather than own and capitalize the stand-alone piece of equipment,” said Corey Geer, chief financial officer of Shoreline Fruit. “We’re excited to be partnered with lenders that want to see us succeed and grow and who care about our ownership group.”