In 1999, Caram joined then-bankrupt avocado, lime and mango grower-shipper Limeco Inc., Princeton, Fla. At the time, Limeco imported little Latin American produce.
Caram, who had worked for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals LLC for nearly a decade as head of sales and marketing and later buying, wanted to see if he could succeed with a different company.
So, at Limeco, he launched a new import program and used some of the connections he’d made with Latin American growers.
Since then, the company, now known as New Limeco LLC, has seen new ownership and an expansion of its offerings to include a variety of tropicals.
In November 2010, Caram led the grower-shipper in achieving a major food safety milestone by gaining Primuslabs.com GlobalGAP certification in its packinghouse and avocado groves.
The aligning of the company to meet customer food safety requirements makes New Limeco the only south Florida avocado grower-shipper that’s able to trace all of its avocados to the grove, Caram said.
The certification has helped open new retail customer doors, he said.
Doggedly working to increase quality and achieve food safety standards has helped New Limeco increase its sales 15% since 2009, Caram said.
Caram was born in Cuba in 1964 to Lebanese immigrants who had moved to Cuba during the 1930s. He emigrated with his parents to the U.S. in 1965 and grew up in a produce family. He worked with his father, Saim Caram, who died in 2007, at El Moro Produce on Miami’s wholesale produce market, selling south Florida tropicals.
Caram, who helped run the company at 16, said his father impressed him with a firm work ethic.
“My philosophy is not taking ownership of what we’ve accomplished as a one-man show, but acknowledging that we do have very good employees that have helped us accomplish all this,” Caram said. “And letting them consistently know that we are all part of the company.”
Caram also credits part of his success to working for Alcides Acosta, New Limeco’s president and owner. One of the largest single Florida avocado, carambola and mamey growers, Acosta bought Limeco in 2001.
Acosta, who has known Caram since Caram was a teenager, when Caram’s father did business with Brooks Tropicals, credits Caram with reviving New Limeco.
“He’s 99% of the rebound,” Acosta said. “He worked day and night on the company and improved the company, its packinghouse and equipment. He enjoys the business and works very hard at it.”