When World War II hit, Mary Spada knew that women would have to provide for their families while still having enough time to put dinner on the table. Working tirelessly with her husband, Leo, Mary saw the need for convenient produce that would require little to no preparation. With $15, a flatbed truck, and a bathtub, she began washing and prepackaging salad to sell to the women in her area, working out of our first location on 10th and SE Belmont Street. A true trailblazer, Mary paved the way for United Salad Company. Leo’s steadfast work ethic matched hers, and he worked countless hours ensuring the day-to-day operations were running smoothly. Until 96 years old, Leo could always be seen laughing and smiling throughout the halls at United Salad Company. Her young sons, Leon, Jr. and Ernie, Sr., helped her with the farm, and a true family business was born. By 1946, we already saw our company’s success coming to fruition. In six short years, we outgrew our first location and moved to a larger building on 3rd and SE Alder Street.
Three years after setting up shop in our new location, sons Ernie and Leon were brought on as partners. Leon, known affectionately by those who loved him as Junior, worked side-by-side with his brother for five decades, growing the business with each year. Together, the brothers brought their personalities and business acumen to the table, forming the perfect union. Junior’s zest for life and gregarious personality served him well in the business, and he took the helm of both buying and sales. A favorite in the industry, Junior is greatly missed by our family and those with whom he worked. Ernie’s entrepreneurial spirit and methodical thinking allowed him to attend high school during the day, and work from midnight to 8:00 a.m as a buyer and warehouse manager. He took our company to new heights with his business-savvy, forward thinking. In addition, he also established and oversees our farming operation, Pride Packing, in Wapato, WA which has seen consistent exponential growth. At 84 years old, Ernie is still a fixture in the office, our fearless leader, and works tirelessly with his son, daughters, and grandchildren to further grow our family business.
1960 marked the year that United Salad Company was recognized as a full-line wholesaler, selling a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and specialty produce. Our family business grew to a total of over 120 employees in the retail packing department alone. We knew it was time to move yet again, and we did so in 1964 to a warehouse on 10th and SE Alder. In 1975, Ernie, Sr.’s vivacious son Ernie, Jr., joined the company as a partner, working as a buyer. In a decade, he continued his buying and took on the responsibility of running the day-to-day operations, and has done so ever since. A true present-day visionary, Ernie, Jr. has an uncanny knack for anticipating and implementing modern trends. With the safety of our customer always in the forefront of his mind, he has taken us to new heights in the way of food safety.
In 1985, we saw the need to provide quality produce to those not only in the grocery store category, but also in the foodservice industry. As a result, we purchased Duck Delivery Produce, Inc. in order to meet the need for quality produce for restaurants and institutions. With the growing company and new addition of Duck Delivery Produce, we moved again to our current location on NE 33rd Drive. With over 200,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, we realized our family business had grown to a level that would make Mary proud. With the growing demands for various categories of produce, we have fully embraced the organic movement, and have brought on a full staff of organic-only buyers. For a full product list, please refer to our product catalog for organic produce.
With family being paramount to us at United Salad Company, we were thrilled to have Ernie III join his father and grandfather in running our family business in 2011. Working in buying and operations, Ernie III has seamlessly assumed his role in the business and is a key factor in its ongoing success. Ernie, Jr.’s youngest son, Leo, emulates his grandfather by attending school during the day and working in warehouse operations. If there is one thing we can say about our family, it is that hard work runs deep, and we can guarantee you continued quality service and product.