Recession could end up closing Boston terminal market businesses - The Packer

Recession could end up closing Boston terminal market businesses

04/30/2009 11:24:00 AM
Andy Nelson

CHELSEA, Mass. — The Boston Terminal Market and the New England Produce Center could have different looks in coming years as a result of the recession, area distributors said.

“I would not be surprised to see a little bit of shaking out,” said Steven Piazza, salesman for Community-Suffolk Inc., Everett. “There are a lot of one- and two-bay operations, and with the cost of fuel, electricity, phones, health care, I don’t know how they’re going to make it.”

Given the close, longstanding personal relationships built among family dominated companies over generations on the markets, it’s not a prospect Piazza looks forward to.

“Everyone knows each other — most of these companies are second- or third-generation,” he said. “I hate to see them go out of business.”

Community-Suffolk is now in its third year of being run by the third generation of Piazzas. Steven’s partners include brothers Tommy and Jack and cousin David. Joseph Piazza — Steven, Tommy and Jack’s father — is still the chairman of the board.

“They say 50% never make it to the second generation, and half of those don’t make it to the third,” he said. “We’re bucking the trend as far as longevity goes. We enjoy working with each other, and every single one of us grew up in the business, starting with unloading freight cars.”

As far as his own company is concerned, Piazza said that given the economy, the situation would have to be perfect for Community-Suffolk to think about growing through consolidation with another, smaller company on the market.

“We’re not willing to take a lot of risk right now,” he said. “We’re going to stick close to what we know and try to get through this difficult period.”

Bobby Nano, owner and president of Boston Tomato & Packaging Co. LLC, agreed that the recession could claim some victims on the terminal markets.

“A lot of guys are hurting a little bit,” Nano said. “As far as us, we’re a pretty solid company. We pay our bills in between 14 and 21 days, and we can call everywhere in the country and get product.”

Consolidation and/or companies going out of business could well happen on the New England Produce Market in the near future, said Sam Rocco, president of BC Produce Inc., but he hasn’t seen it yet.

There is one effect of the recession he seems more sure of.

“What I think it is going to do is delay retirements,” he said. “A lot of people who are moving into retirement age — who knows if they’ll retire on time?”



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