The Knudsen Fruit Company’s trade is simply tremendous, but it is carried on with so little friction that the house supplies a very considerable share of the fruit and produce trade of the adjoining states without being obtruded much on the public notice. It supplies the machinery for carrying the fruits of the fields and orchards from the producer to the consumer. It has so well supplied this function that it has grown to be the most important institution of the sort at the head of the lakes and the volume of the total business is not easily reckoned-though it is hinted at by the fact stated, that it handles 100 or more cars of bananas alone in Duluth every year, which is two-fifths of all that fruit sold in this market. The methods of handling and the fact that the Knudsen company imports its own bananas has permitted the company to reduce the cost of the fruit 25 per cent.
The banana trade is but an incident in the general fruit and produce business of the company, which figures largely in supplying the markets of Duluth and the surrounding towns. Apples are handled in vast quantities by the firm each year and other fruits and produce in proportion. Speed in handling and freedom from loss by incident delay has made it possible for the house to minimize the cost of fruit and produce in this market, while its resources have permitted it to import and deal in edibles that were a few years ago regarded as luxuries, but which have now come to be the commonest necessities. The house is specially equipped for the handling of California fruits, of which it makes a specialty, and is the biggest jobber of bananas in the Northwest.
The house was organized in 1896 by II. B. Knudsen, Thomas Smith and E. M1. Ferguson and began doing business on a small scale. It has been extremely successful and has expanded until it has become the largest house supplying this market, maintaining branches at Superior and Ashland and covering the territory included in Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan, North Dakota and Ontario. The officers of the company are: Frank S. Sleeper, president and treasurer; Fred D. Merrick, vice president; E. J. Lydon, secretary.