(July 2, 12:30 p.m.) My Produce Guy, an online ordering delivery service started by the owners of Atlanta foodservice distributor Athena Farms, celebrates its first anniversary this summer.

My Produce Guy was started after the suggestion of a neighbor of Richard Levine, Athena’s co-owner and vice president. Levine began packing boxes of produce for a customer and neighbor friend in an Atlanta country club subdivision where Levine was also building a new home. When other neighbors asked Levine’s friend who delivered the produce to her, she told them, “my produce guy.”

The service, which initially focused on delivering fresh produce and other items such as milk and eggs to consumers’ doorsteps, is working with a large Atlanta food company to include prepared meal deliveries. My Produce Guy also plans to double its sales during its second year, said Terry Shirley, Athena’s vice president of sales and marketing. Customers place orders at www.myproduceguy.com.

“Our growth has been exponential,” Shirley said. “Because there’s so much room for growth in the metropolitan Atlanta market, we don’t even need to expand our territory in order to grow. We just need to get our name out bigger and bigger.”

For shoppers placing orders by 8 p.m., My Produce Guy provides next-day delivery of more than 200 produce and other food items to customers in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area of Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

Wide variety of produce items

Relying on a large catalog of regular and specialty produce items that Athena sources and distributes to its upscale Atlanta restaurant clientele, My Produce Guy delivers staples such as apples and tomatoes as well as many tropical and specialty items. The specialties delivered to homes and offices include baby bananas, Asian pears, kiwifruit, white asparagus, baby sunburst and baby zucchini squash, rapini, Asian vegetables, celery root, daikon and heirloom tomatoes. Consumers can also order fresh-cut packs such as chopped and washed romaine and green and yellow bean medley.

“This is a home delivery venture that isn’t dependent on orders,” said Robert Poole, an Athena senior salesman. “We’re not having to bring product in. All product is piggybacked under Athena.”

Drivers deliver the products in a reusable insulated cardboard box that controls temperature through a process designed by Levine and Shirley. The boxes, left at customers’ doorsteps, keep product cool for more than five hours, Shirley said.

Direct from growers

The 150-200 deliveries a week are shipped directly from growers, skipping the traditional online business sourcing model that pulls orders from retail shelves or distribution centers. That allows Athena to provide its customers fresher product, Shirley said.

The service, which also delivers fresh-squeezed orange juice and gift boxes, remains valuable to time-starved consumers who may not want to drive to their local supermarkets, Shirley said.

Shirley, who joined Athena in June 2007, worked 23 years in the sales part of the trucking business and handled national accounts such as Tropicana and Coke.

“This has been a real fun thing to work on and do,” Shirley said. “We have such an incredible group that’s at the office that really makes this thing happen day in and day out. If not for them, it would be futile, as you’re only as good as your people.”

My Produce Guy marks one year in delivery business
Produce trucks such as this one deliver fresh produce to consumers’ homes and offices in the Atlanta area. MyProduceGuy.com, created by the owners of foodservice distributor Athena Farms, has been servicing customers for more than a year. The company’s owners plan to expand into prepared meals.