In 1908, C.B. Henggeler moved to a farm he had purchased south of Fruitland, Idaho and began planting fruit trees on his new farm starting a 100 year tradition of growing quality fruit in Idaho. Tony and Joe Henggeler came to Idaho with their father Charles in 1909 who had purchased a farm across from C.B. Along with five other siblings, they took an active part in the orchard and general farm work that was required to operate a diversified farm. All the farm work had to be accomplished with horse-drawn machinery and it took many hours to finish.
Over 100 years later the original farmsteads continues to be owned by members of the Henggeler family.
In 1943, Henggeler Packing Company was organized by Tony and Joe Henggeler and J.A. McMillan. Interestingly, the first year of operation the company did not pack a single piece of fruit due to a 100% crop failure from heavy spring freezes. The second year of operation the company also experienced spring freezes and packed 50% of a crop. Despite a tough beginning, the company had an excellent year in 1945 with heavy production and good prices. It was during this time that the company selected “Fortress” as their label because of the flying fortress bomber’s success in World War II.
Helping transition from one generation to the next, Tony and Joe each had two sons, Rudy, Tony, Jerry and Robert that became involved in the company. Rudy was charged with the packaging line and refrigeration, Tony supervised the shipping and receiving and later managed the fertilizer department, Jerry was responsible for the marketing and later became general manager, and Robert owned and operated orchards that supplied fruit for the packing operation.
Throughout this period of time many changes took place from packaging to storage. Wooden baskets were exchanged for cardboard boxes, storage life of apples was extended by the construction of controlled atmosphere storages and various updates to the packaging line were implemented.
In 1994, Ryan Henggeler (Jerry’s son) who had worked for the company for many years joined the ranks of management and began managing the packaging line and storage equipment. Kelly (Robert’s son) returned from a job in Southern California and worked with Jerry in sales. A few years later Chad (Jerry’s youngest son) finished college and began operating and managing orchard sites.
Henggeler Packing Company is now managed by third generation of Henggeler’s, Kelly, Ryan and Chad. A new building was constructed and new packing line installed in 1998. Currently, the company grows over 50% of the fruit packaged and packs fruit for over 20 growers located in three counties.
The company packs and markets seven different varieties of apples including: Gala, Red and Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Red Rome, Braeburn and Fuji. The company is also expanding their varietal mix by adding Honey crisp and Granny Smith set to be in production by 2015. In 2001, the company began planting peaches which have outstanding flavor with the warm days and cool nights maximizing the sweetness of the fruit.
Five different varieties of peaches including O’Henry, Jon Henry, Zee Lady, Summer Lady and Elegant Lady are packaged by the company. The company also packages plums and prunes. The company continues to update packing equipment and orchard systems. The installation of drip systems, trellis systems and integrated pest management (IPM) is building a sustainable program that protects Idaho’s valuable resources of clean water, air and land.
Henggeler Packing is fortunate to have grown fruit for over 100 years and packaged fruit for almost 70 years. Consistent eating quality is the number one goal and the reward is loyal customers who buy our fruit every year.