Solar produce might sound like a foreign concept for a century-plus-old Milwaukee-based company, but it is how Maglio Produce is keeping up with the times.
Fifth-generation owner Paul Maglio is the company's director of operations.
"We are basically an importer, manufacturer and wholesaler for fresh fruits and vegetables," said Maglio.
Produce is shipped to the Glendale facility from around the world.
"And then it comes here and what we do is we produce it to the customer's specifications," said Maglio.
Workers chop and package the fruits and vegetables for restaurants and grocery stores around the Midwest.
"So if it's grape tomatoes for a customer we'll buy them bulk from the grower, 20-pound cartons, and as you see behind us they'll put them in 12-pint containers and that's what you'll see in the grocery store," said Maglio.
The 117-year-old company is making changes up top, and they're calling it solar produce.
"Solar produce is our initiative to be 100 percent recyclable," said Maglio.
They've installed 1,122 panels on the roof to offset 36 percent of Maglio's annual energy use.
"Here we don't always have the heat that we need to produce anything else," said Maglio. "We don't always have the wind for a wind farm, but there's plenty of sun even when it's cold outside and snowing."
On a sunny day, they will have double the amount of energy needed to power the building.
"The thing you have to remember about us is that we have refrigeration which runs 24 hours a day, so we require more energy than like an office building," said Maglio.
They buy back the excess power at night. In a year, they expect to generate enough energy to power 43 homes. The community is even benefiting from the solar power initiative.
"The benefit would be working toward a company that's more sustainable and wants to give back to their communities," said Maglio.
Samantha Voster of Riverwest Food Pantry said the company helps get fresh food to those in need by letting them use their property to grow.
"Typically when you're at a food pantry you get a lot of canned food," said Voster.
Riverwest Food Pantry grew 3,500 pounds of food using Maglio's property.
"I think it's amazing. ... It just is benefiting the community more ultimately because you're conserving energy," said Voster.
"All we have to do is provide the energy and space that they need to get the produce in the ground, taken out and basically put on their plates," said Maglio.
Maglio said it's not too early to say the initiative is working.
"The first bills that we've gotten from January have shown that it's producing a little bit of savings," he said.
Maglio has three other facilities nationwide. If all goes well with the solar produce initiative at the local facility, the company might roll it out in other locations.