Friends share experience of using jet cooler to help expand their businesses
Two lifelong friends in northern California share cooling for their commodities. They gain two seasons out of what’s typically one season and run their businesses like brothers.
Since 2014, Tony Serrano, president of JAS Family Farms Organics, and Pat Coash, owner of Koppes Plants, both in Watsonville, CA, have been sharing cooling. JAS grows organic squash, artichokes and Brussels sprouts and sells to retailers and wholesalers throughout the U.S., while Koppes is a wholesale strawberry nursery supplying commercial growers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
When Serrano needed to refrigerate his product, he turned to Coash, whose strawberry plants’ season is October through May, and idle in the summer when JAS harvests. Cooling in Koppes’ large refrigeration facility is provided by Jet-Ready Precoolers, manufactured by Global Cooling, Inc.
According to the company, the cooling arrangement helped JAS land Costco as a customer shortly after Serrano starting his company in 2014. “If this cooling system is good enough to cool down product that goes into Costco and is good enough for the biggest customers, you can get your product to anyone else,” says Serrano.
Aside from Serrano and Coash’s relationship, the Jet-Ready Precooler is the reason the business partnership has worked, says Coash. “I have known Tony for so long. It was such a seamless and easy transition,” he says. “It’s ‘Here’s the set of keys’ is how much we trust each other, which is very rare in this day and age. It’s almost like having a brother here watching the place while you’re gone.”
Coash and Serrano met when children and their families remain close. Coash’s uncle, the late Max Koppes, who founded the operation in 1949, would see Serrano running around the fields as a child when he sold Serrano’s father strawberry plants during the 1970s. After graduating college in 1988, Coash entered his uncle’s business and took it over after Koppes died in 1999.
Born to migrant workers from Mexico, Serrano came to the U.S. in the trunk of a red Grand Torino when he was three years of age. Raised in the fields, Serrano went to school and acted as a translator when his parents started their own strawberry growing business. There, he learned a myriad of skills, from picking strawberries and driving trucks to setting up irrigation systems. Serrano also worked eight years in sales and marketing for Alba Organics in Salinas, CA.
“It is a natural situation where Pat and I could work together,” says Serrano. “We work well with each other and haven’t had a disagreement on anything. Like any industry, this is a small community. Word gets around of your ethics, your personality and your mode of operation. To have someone like him know me and be able to say some good things about me goes a long way.”
Because Serrano’s business is booming, Coash plans to more than double cooling capacity. The Jet Precoolers work so well that the two plan to purchase more units to refrigerate product. “This cooler doesn’t break down, which is super important,” says Serrano. “With its two fans, it cools the product fast and doesn’t sweat, which means it won’t create mold or decay in the product. This unit is small compared to the others. You wouldn’t think of it as powerful as it is, which is important when you’re limited in cooling space.”
Coash finds the cooler easy to use. “It was pretty intriguing because it is so portable,” he says. “As our facility didn’t have the capacity to add tunnel cooling, these jet coolers are perfect. They move a lot of air, which is something you wouldn’t think about for a machine of this size, but it’s not as simple as it looks. At first, I was skeptical, but these work so well.”
“Our Jet Precoolers are made in America, right here in Philadelphia at the Philly Navy Yard business park,” said Jim J. Still, Global’s Vice President. “All our components are the best that money can buy, and our portables are amazingly powerful. Time after time, we outperform bunker wall systems and farm-built box fans.”