Double Date Packing CEO Steve Gilfenbain Talks Maintaining High-Quality Medjool Dates
COACHELLA, CA – Produce industry pioneer and Coachella Valley staple Steve Gilfenbain has a few more tricks up his sleeve since selling his namesake grape company, Steveco, in 2011. Double Date Packing is the latest offering from the produce-minded Gilfenbain, a grower, packer, and shipper of high-quality Medjool dates.
“During my 40 years in the grape business, I also spent 12 years growing dates for other packers,” Steve tells me when I ask him why he decided to start Double Date Packing. “I was never comfortable seeing the way those companies handled their products, so I started my own packing facility. We’re now efficient enough that we can account for every single pound—you can’t say the same for other date companies. We’re really setting out to change the industry.”
2015 was the company’s first year of production, but Double Date Packing has already begun carving out a niche for itself with its focus on both quality and service. Steve explained to me that he wants Double Date to become a solution for those problems he found in his early days in the date business, with specifically the purpose of packing high-quality and uniform packages.
This uniformity comes in part from the company’s state-of-the-art packing facility, which uses Italian-made machines that size each date by color, size, and shape. The dates are then sorted by Fancy, Extra Fancy, Large, and Jumbo. Steve notes that the majority of the industry packs by hand, which is not as accurate as the cameras Double Date uses.
“With our state-of-the-art facility and our energy saving solar panels, we have a goal of being a green produce company. We are able to pass that energy savings off to the consumer, as well as that uniformity that comes with our technology,” Steve continues.
Currently, Double Date Packing is offering its both consumer and bulk packs, with the former coming in 8 oz, 12 oz, 16 oz, and 32 oz sizes, and the later in 5 lb, 11 lb, and 22 lb cases. But there are even bigger plans on the horizon. Steve hinted to me that he has his eyes on adding the Deglet Noor date variety to the company’s lineup, as well as value-added packaging, chopped dates, and daterolls. Double Date Packing will also be continuing to ramp up its Medjool date acreage as the company grows.
“Our complete focus is on giving the best quality of Medjool dates to all of our customers,” adds Hope Barbee, the company’s Sales Manager. “We want to put the best product we can into the market, with the best quality on the market. Steve’s reputation in the industry is so huge; from the growing and packing, down to the marketing and the packaging, he always maintains the highest quality.”