Mission, Vision, & Values
Growers Custom Equipment, LLC (GCE) is a specialized post harvest equipment manufacturing company for the agriculture industry.
We will be recognized as the most trusted brand in custom agriculture equipment, providing integrated pre-cooling and cooling solutions, differentiated through innovation.
Our mission is to design, engineer, manufacture, sell, and support custom equipment for the Agriculture industry.
We will achieve our mission and vision with passion for excellence, honesty, ethical behavior, and uncompromising integrity.
GCE provides solutions to your pre-cooling and cooling needs by offering a variety of products and systems, including Vacuum Tubes, Ice Injectors, Ice Generators, Hydrocoolers, Mobile Refrigeration Trailers, and more. Our refrigeration systems not only increase the shelf life of your product but will also expand your market to more distant locations, extend market periods, and allow you to wait for produce price increases.
GCE’s skilled team of engineers and manufacturers have a proven track record of providing the highest level of expertise to help our customers increase the value of their business by preserving product quality. We have based our reputation on providing fast, yet economical cooling products and systems that continually ensure excellent arrivals, long shelf life, satisfied customers, and increased profits for the produce industry.
— Industry Leader in Specialized Equipment Manufacturing —
GCE’s manufacturing facilities and sales teams are located in Yuma, AZ. This new 18,000 sq. ft. facility in Yuma allows for more specialized manufacturing capabilities.
GCE leases fleet of over 25 mobile ice and refrigeration trailers and 35 ice injectors that supply ice and refrigeration to growers across North America.
From the executive management team to every member of the GCE Family, you will be working with a talented group of experienced professionals. It is with pride that we can say Growers Custom Equipment boasts long-term relationships with our employees, as well as our customers and partners.
Built on a Solid Foundation
Founded in 2016, GCE was previously owned by Growers Ice Company (GIC). GIC began manufacturing specialized equipment to support its own operations in the 1930s. Over the years they have continued to innovate and design equipment to pre-cool and cool product, which maintains the quality from the field to the table.
During its early inception, GCE acquired the key assets and talent of Summit Mechanical, LLC., strengthening GCE’s position as an emerging market leader in the agriculture industry. In early 2018, GIC transferred GCE’s ownership to Post Harvest Technologies (PHT), Inc.
Currently, GCE is owned by PHT, Inc. and they continue their commitment to excellence in designing and manufacturing superior pre- and post-cooling products for companies in the agriculture industry.
We Are Your Single-Source Solution For Specialized Equipment Needs.
Whether you’re interested in a design build or in need of a retrofit, our specialists will devise cooling solutions that work for your facility. Careful planning and superior implementation ensures you get the fastest return-on-investment with minimum impact on your day-to-day operations. From small jobs to large commercial designs, our experts have done it all and they know what works.
By choosing our design and build capabilities, our customers eliminate the need to work with multiple sub-contractors. With complete architectural, engineering and construction services combined under a single contract, you’ll work with one team from concept to completion. At GCE, our exclusive design build approach removes the costly change orders making sure your project is completed on time, on budget and to your exact specifications. The customer reaps the benefits of “one stop shopping” at its best.
GCE is committed to improving sustainability and energy performance by offering retrofit services to our customers. We streamline operations and increase productivity while ensuring critical temperature reliability. By retrofitting your facility, we can reduce operation costs and environmental impacts, while also increasing building adaptability, durability, and resiliency. Our highly trained technicians handle your thermal retrofits with the premium workmanship you expect from the best in the business.
In order to thrive in today’s produce industry, successful growers must practice good postharvest procedures. One of the most critical components of the postharvest phase is fast and efficient pre-cooling of fruits and vegetables since maintaining shelf life ensures freshness that consumers demand on a daily basis.
Pre-cooling refers to the rapid removal of field heat shortly after the harvest of a crop. Field heat can be defined as the difference in temperature between the temperature of the crop harvested and the optimal storage temperature of that product. The choice of pre-cooling method depends largely on the perishability and refrigeration equipment of the produce and its adaptability to a specific method. Different cooling methods may be applied to the same commodity. The most common cooling methods in commercial use are the following:
Hydro-cooling is a method of pre-cooling that involves using our GCE Hydro-Cooler to rapidly submerge the produce in chilling water and then shower the product in cold water to remove field heat. Hydro-cooling is very fast, but limited by the temperature to which you can cool produce. Without additives, water can’t be cooled below 32°F (0°C). Therefore, this method is ineffective for cooling down to 31°F or below. One of the main advantages of hydro-cooling is that it helps the produce retain moisture and stay hydrated, which may even revive slightly wilted produce.
The process of vacuum cooling is the rapid refrigeration of a porous product through moisture removal. The heat is removed very rapidly, allowing for earlier shipping and a fresher product. The vacuum cooling method is performed with our GCE Vacuum Tube. The pallets containing the product are loaded into a vacuum tight chamber and the process begins. The equipment drops the pressure inside the vessel by removing air through vacuum pumps. Once the level of vacuum reaches the “flash point” moisture and heat are removed from the product in the form of water vapor. The lower the pressure inside the chamber, the lower the boiling point of water. As the vacuum goes deeper, more water vapor is removed and the product temperature is reduced until the desired temperature is achieved.
Hydrovac cooling is a combination of vacuum cooling and hydro-cooling. Just prior to the “flash point” when the water evaporates from the produce, additional cold water is added. This replenishes moisture lost during vacuum cooling, which helps prevent dehydration and a loss of water weight.
Ice cooling is the method of using our GCE Ice Injector to mix ice and water into an ice slurry mix that is “injected” into the product packaging (closed cartons) and cooled by direct contact. When injected into a box of produce this ice slurry mix surrounds the produce within, filling any open spaces. The water then drains through holes in the box leaving behind instantly cooled produce blanketed in snow.
Forced Air Cooling is the process of quickly removing heat from product by creating a pressure differential across the product. The product, usually stacked on pallets, is placed in rows and sealed to control the flow of cold air through the product, rather than around it. This cooling method uses fans designed to circulate, or force, cool air throughout the produce. By pulling the air through the produce rather than pushing it past the produce, this helps minimize associated dehydration. Nevertheless, forced air cooling often requires close monitoring and a humidifying system to prevent dehydration. Good airflow is essential for forced-air cooling and thus the produce must not be too closely packed together.
With the Room Cooling method, the produce to be cooled is simply placed in a refrigerated room such as a cooler and allowed to naturally acclimate to ambient temperatures. However, modern coolers are carefully designed to closely regulate temperatures, airflow, humidity and often a host of other environmental factors that give the produce their best chance at maximum preservation and shelf life. Room cooling is most effective for produce that does not need to rapidly reach its minimum cooling temperature or which has already been pre-cooled using another method.