Boston wholesalers upbeat despite lingering economic woes

03/22/2012 11:25:00 AM
Andy Nelson

“Costs will remain high, and it will very difficult” to find trucks, Alphas said.

High fuel costs aren’t the only transportation-related problems Boston wholesalers must contend with, Alphas said.

“A lot of trucks get into Boston and then they can’t get out.”

That’s not because of Chelsea’s pothole-ridden streets. Alphas said there isn’t enough outbound freight originating in Boston to make it worthwhile for many truckers coming in.

Steven Piazza, president and treasurer of Everett, Mass.-based Community-Suffolk Inc., said that despite the improving U.S. economic news, tough times were still being felt by Boston-area wholesalers.

“That’s what they’re saying in the newspapers,” Piazza said, citing recent reports of lower unemployment rates and other economy-related news.

“But it doesn’t feel that way out on the street.”

And “on the street,” Piazza said, also carries over to “on the terminal market.”

“Overall it’s been pretty quiet,” he said.

Ups, downs

“Cash is very short out there in the world. Everybody’s very aware of value. If it’s a good deal, it gets a push.”

Friday to Monday traffic is still brisk on the market, Piazza said, but Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday sales have been sluggish.

Community-Suffolk’s plan is to keeping grinding away during the cold months until the weather improves and prospects for produce consumption improve.

“We’ll trudge along until spring comes along and business picks up,” Piazza said.

Richie Travers, treasurer and secretary of Chelsea-based Travers Fruit Co., has been pleased with the timing of his and his brother Paul’s decision to form their own company last October.

The former Mutual Produce Inc. co-owners moved into space on the New England Produce Center terminal formerly occupied by State Garden Co. Inc.

“Business has been good,” Travers said.

“All of our suppliers followed us, and we’ve been very pleased with the reaction.”

The U.S. economy is still in a recession, as far as Travers is concerned. But the produce industry has an advantage over other industries.

“Everything goes bad and has to be reordered,” he said.

“We’re lucky to be in a good business.”


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