Philadelphia produce wholesalers more than ready to relocate

05/27/2011 10:30:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Many distributors say their larger stalls should allow them to handle more produce and sell to new customers.

While Pete Storey, salesman for Quaker City Produce Co., said he agreed the new building should foster more sales, he said Quaker City plans to remain conservative and evaluate its customers’ buying appetites before it invests in a large product line expansion.

“The economy is still a big issue with a lot of people,” Storey said. “A lot of these chains are doing that well.”

Storey said the new operation will have obvious advantages.

“We will be the best wholesale refrigerator in the country,” he said. “We will have the freshest produce in the world because we won’t be breaking that cold chain. Everyone is so very excited. (Waiting for the new market to open) is like having the keys to a brand-new car without being able to drive it — having that red Mustang in your driveway but you can’t touch it yet.”

Quaker City is known for its berries and western vegetables.

The market came about through a public and private partnership, one involving the builder, Brian O’Neill, founder and chairman of O’Neill Properties, King of Prussia, Pa., who during the March 25 ribbon-cutting ceremonies took delight in showing off through tours of the operation the facility he built.

O’Neill cited Sonny DiCrecchio, the market’s executive director, as being the key individual whose determination kept the dream of a new market going throughout the ordeal when government officials, environmentalists and others blocked site selection.

“Sonny drove this thing,” O’Neill said. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”

Building the operation didn’t come without some scrapes, however. O’Neill said the individuals such as DiCrecchio, who doggedly worked to build the facility, engaged in frequent shouting matches and scream fests.

DiCrecchio admitted it sometimes takes some aggressive action to get things done, particularly in meetings with lawyers or other governmental agency staffers.

“We did fight a lot,” DiCrecchio acknowledged. “I have had some ups and downs with this project. I have had a lot of downs.”


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