Many wholesalers that serve Atlanta’s restaurants and supermarkets say business is strong.
Others in what’s often called the capital of the South say sales aren’t so vibrant.
Andrew Scott, former sales and procurement manager for General Produce Inc., Forest Park, Ga., said the city’s economy remains solid.
“The economy is pretty strong here,” he said.
“We all had our downtime in 2008-10, but you can see things picking up as housing sales are returning. We have good convention business downtown and the city’s hotel occupancy rates are up.”
Scott points to the recent opening of an international terminal at the city’s Hartsfield International Airport and said the airport has been one of the world’s busiest since 2009.
That airport brings a constant flow of people into the Atlanta area on a daily basis, thus helping the region’s economy, said Brian Young, vice president of Coosemans Atlanta Inc.
“Business is very good and things seem to be going in a good direction,” he said.
“The hotels seem to be doing better. Some of the high-end restaurants I’ve been in all seem to be doing well. You can see this from the sales.”
Young does acknowledge that some parts of the metropolitan area appear to be faring better than others.
He said a visit to one part of town shows vibrant activity while driving through another shows some abandoned warehouses, empty strip malls and vacancies.
Though not unaffected, overall, Atlanta fared better than some other metropolitan areas during the recession and David Collins III, president of Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice Inc., Forest Park, said the economy appears to be rebounding.
“I don’t think there’s as much timidity in the market as there once was,” he said.
“It’s not a bell curve effect but more like a line that’s rising. A couple of years ago, people were putting on the brakes and trying to hold on, but they now feel like the storm has passed. We are starting to see a little swell in opportunities and new grass pop up. Those seeds are starting to germinate. Over the next year, we should see more of that kind of activity.”
Nickey Gregory, president and owner of Nickey Gregory Co. LLC, Atlanta, characterizes the region’s economy as favorable.
“It seems like all areas of the Southeast are growing a little,” he said. “Retail stands strong and foodservice is coming back a little as there seems to be a little more money in the economy.”
Robert Poole, junior partner and vice president of sales for Athena Farms in Forest Park, said business remains steady.
He said 2012 was a strong year and said the foodservice distributor is seeing favorable sales.
“The way we look at it, just because the pie may be getting smaller, it doesn’t mean my slice of it has to get smaller,” Poole said. “Even if the whole market has decreased, it doesn’t mean a company couldn’t have a bigger share of what’s leftover. There are people with money spending it. We just have to figure out who they are.”
Chris Garmendia, general manager of Produce Exchange of Atlanta Inc., Forest Park, among others, said fresh produce business isn’t improving fast enough.
“Personally, I haven’t seen too many improvements in the economy here,” he said. “In the news, they say it’s improved, but I haven’t seen any changes. I wouldn’t say it’s strong.”