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Lawsuit reveals $6.6MM in PACA claims against H. Brooks, J&J Distributing

Two years after being acquired by a private equity firm and merging with a local competitor, rumors on social media are circulating that New Brighton, MN-based H. Brooks and Co. has ceased operations.

This comes a week after a judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by vendors including Stemilt Growers and R.S. Hanline and Co. – one of more than half a dozen lawsuits currently in litigation against the companies.

Court documents indicate H. Brooks and J&J Distributing acknowledge owing at least $6.6 million in PACA claims.

A phone call to H. Books headquarters was not answered.

St. Paul, MN-based J&J Distributing BB #:100664 and New Brighton, MN-based H. Brooks Co. BB #:100563  announced a joint acquisition by New Harvest Foods, a private equity firm controlled by the Dragonfly Group, with affiliates led by Jayson Jaynes.

But, according to court documents and an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the merger was never completed, and the private equity firm “left the companies to rot.”

Ron Carkoski, former CEO of Four Seasons Produce, Ephrata, PA, was named CEO of New Harvest Foods at the time of the merger announcement and resigned in June 2020 “after it became abundantly clear the new ownership group could not sufficiently capitalize the company,” Carkoski said in an email.

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.