Brooks Tropicals' History
Premium Quality Since 1928
It was Charlie Brooks' hobby that he turned to when the Florida real estate bubble burst in the 1920s. Selling Cuban avocados brought over by ferry and on Flagler's railroad was the family's entry into agriculture. Soon Charlie was growing grapefruits, mangos and avocados in the Redlands, with his son, Dick joining him after college.
To expand Brooks' reach into lucrative Northeast markets, Dick personally rode a refrigerated truck filled with avocados to prove that his Florida fruit could make it fresh to that region's dinner tables. Northerners would grow to love the sweet taste of Florida avocados, allowing the Brooks family to tweak and expand its agricultural focus.
So grapefruit trees were chopped with lime trees sprouting in their place. In the 1960s, Neal Palmer "Pal" Brooks followed Dick, his father, and joined the company after college. The company expanded across the board in planting more acres, growing starfruit, and managing and packing what other people grew.
That was 1928.
President Pal Brooks and CEO Greg Smith head the company that has become the premier grower, packer and shipper of tropical produce grown in Florida and around the Caribbean.
Farming more than 4,000 acres, Brooks Tropicals harvests more than 70 percent of what the firm sells.
In an area called the Redlands just south of Miami, the company grows SlimCado® avocados. On the Florida west coast, the company grows starfruit.
The company's Belize operations grows, packs and ships Caribbean Red® papayas. Twenty other tropical fruits and vegetables are imported into the North American market from fifteen countries in Central and South America.
It hasn't been without some high hurdles, such as citrus canker's decimation of South Florida's lime industry and the destruction by hurricanes Andrew (Florida) and Dean (Belize). The company is currently tackling the infestation of the ambrosia beetle, an insect that deposits a killing fungus into avocado trees. Brooks Tropicals is optimistic about the effectiveness of treatments the firm has pioneered in this area.
Mother Nature's Role
Agriculture is at Mother Nature's beck and call. But crop diversity and geographic distribution of operations strategically lessen weather problems that could impact the overall health of the business.
We do business in a hurricane zone. To avoid disruption in service to our customers, Brooks Tropicals' facilities were built to lessen the impact of these storms. With five diesel generators that kick in moments after a power outage, the company is back in business the day after a hurricane, with produce stored in coolers that had little if any change in temperatures or humidity. For Internet and voice connectivity with fellow employees and customers, a complete fiber optic network is up, running and ready for business 99.95 percent of the time.
More than 1,000 people work for Brooks in a wide range of occupations, from field operations and packing facilities to sales and software development.
Brooks' employees work in facilities— fields, shipping docks and packinghouses in Florida and Belize—that continually receive outstanding marks in food safety from a leading third-party auditor.
The popular Caribbean Red papaya business started with two full-time workers and thirty acres. Every year for the past ten years the acreage has doubled along with production.
Brooks Tropicals is now the largest importer of papayas to the United States and Canada. Working with retailers, Brooks has also played a major role in mainstreaming this fruit outside of the Hispanic and Asian markets.
Brooks has its own avocado groves and manages other growers' groves for them. The company tests, packs and ships these avocados under the SlimCado label, which advertises the fact that these avocados have less fat and fewer calories than Hass avocados. Brooks is the largest grower, packer and shipper of Florida avocados.
Brooks expanded agricultural operations to an island environment on the west coast of Florida where the perfect soil was found for growing starfruit. Brooks Tropicals has paved the way for the American adoption of this fruit.
Other tropical specialties
The company sells more than twenty other commodities— ranging from aloe to yuca— and markets products for select Caribbean and Central and South American growers.
Bringing tropical produce to your dinner table
To maintain the company's reputation for quality tropical fruits and vegetables, Brooks Tropicals solidly invests in research and development. This has been essential in producing several revolutionary achievements over the past thirty years that help bring tropical produce to the market in top condition for the enjoyment of the North American consumer.