Philadelphia produce wholesalers ready to flee antiquated operation

05/27/2011 10:24:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Being a gigantic building, Penza said it was only natural to expect setbacks that delayed the operation’s opening.

John Vena Jr., market board member and president of John Vena Inc., said wholesalers tried to satisfy several objectives in building the new facility.

“We didn’t want to build a cold, lifeless facility,” he said. “We tried to put together a plan for a facility that solved our needs as a wholesale market.”

Vena said building such a facility remained complicated because the building has to satisfy the physical side of the business management of the cold chain and be usable for everyday work such as unloading of inbound trucks and loading of customers’ trucks. He said the market tried to include proper product management and handling changes required of a terminal market as well as include some aesthetic improvements.

“We wanted to build something where our customers could see not only the beautiful displays of product but be able to do business in a lively atmosphere where produce is created,” Vena said. “We are in a very exciting end of the industry. We interact with end-users, chefs and retailers. We wanted them to be able to feel that excitement inside the facility.”

Pitt focuses on bananas and tropicals.

Like others, Waleski said she worries about increased costs.

“It’s exciting and scary, as we are a small company,” she said. “We are hoping we can make it there.”

Waleski joined her father in sales at the company in 1998 after she graduated from college. She went to work in another industry but returned a couple of years later.


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