Move to market a long and frustrating path for Philadelphia produce distributors - The Packer

Move to market a long and frustrating path for Philadelphia produce distributors

09/16/2010 06:40:42 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

PHILADELPHIA — The journey to a new produce terminal has been long and difficult for the city’s distributors.

Doug Ohlemeier

The new market being built for Philadelphia produce distributors features many modern innovations. Distributors say they can’t wait to exit their antiquated operations at the current produce terminal on the city’s south side.

Numerous other locations had been choosen by wholesalers on the terminal market but each time before government officials or entities stopped the process. This time those parties have signed off.

However, in early August, the building contractor told the market’s board that they are behind on finishing the building and on installing refrigeration units.

The delay means the move-in date would be postponed from late October and early November until the start of 2011.

Once refrigeration was completed, the contractors said it would take two months to make sure the equipment is working properly, said Jimmy Storey, terminal association president and president and owner of Quaker City Produce Co.

As the process began in 2003, few expressed worry about the delay.

“That’s all it is, another month,” said Martin Roth, secretary-treasurer of Coosemans Philadelphia Inc. “If the building was finished, we’d still have to test it. It’s not like you’re moving into a home. You have to test all the refrigeration and make sure everything is up and running properly.”

When it finally opens, it will be called the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. Storey said the industry would be impressed.

“It will blow your mind, how humongous it is,” he said.

Mark Levin, co-owner of M. Levin & Co. Inc., who plans to increase the number of his units from two units on the current market to four in the new building, said no one wanted to move close to the holiday pull because moving would have disrupted business.

“Trying to move and do our business during Thanksgiving and Christmas, our busiest times of the year, wouldn’t make for a practical situation,” he said.

Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. plans to have three store spaces in the new operation.

It has five stalls in the older market.

The new market stalls, however, are much larger and more efficient, said Mike Maxwell, president.

“This will be very much a showpiece of a market,” he said. “Sonny DiCrecchio (market manager) has done quite a job designing it and getting it under way. It took all kinds of moves to get it to where we are now. It started so many years ago and now we are finally there. It’s very exciting for all of us.”

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