Issue Fall 15
When Procacci Brothers Chairman and CEO Joe Procacci was growing up in Camden, N.J., his father sent him out with a pushcart of bananas and he wouldn’t come home until it was all sold. At the age of 18 in 1946, Procacci and his brother Michael purchased a wholesale produce business in Allentown, Pa. A few years later, they shifted focus to Philadelphia and repacking, founding Procacci Brothers in their father’s cellar and eventually opened up a spot on the Dock Street Produce Market.
“We just kept outgrowing our space and were eventually led to our current setup in South Philadelphia, where we have seven buildings for different services and segments of our company,” Procacci says.
Today, Procacci Brothers has a full line of premium produce and signature categories. Procacci says the company has been told that it is responsible for almost 20 percent of the fresh tomatoes in the United States, which is a tremendous part of its business. Additionally, it was the first company to commercially market grape tomatoes in North America with its exclusive Santa F1 grape tomato seed, which the company grows along with its proprietary Uglyripe Heirloom Tomato.
“I think what we’re most known for and what I’m most proud of is that we have such a wide array of services and can offer value in so many different aspects of the supply chain,” Procacci says.
Over time, Procacci Brothers has expanded from a wholesale role to one servicing chain stores and chain restaurants, evolving into independent stores and distributors as well. As it has expanded its capacity, the company has expanded services across the supply chain, from wholesale and distribution capabilities to packaging and cold storage.
“We’ve built a rapport with these customers that’s always centered around service and our willingness to go beyond our normal bounds to keep them happy,” President Mike Maxwell says. “In our industry, we’re expected to provide the best quality at the best value. Our buying power and product breadth makes us extremely competitive in doing that amongst other services.”
The company has established give-and-take relationships with customers that help it remain current regarding what it needs to offer in terms of products, packaging and services.
“We have conversations with customers to find out how they would like us to improve, and our team in the field uses their retail experience to offer insight and recommendations as well,” Vice President of Sales Rick Feighery says. “We also follow trends in different food industry aspects.”
Over the last few years, Procacci Brothers has established and grown its floral business, bringing in a new procurement and management team to support those operations. With produce and floral so closely integrated at stores and at category management levels, the fit was a natural one.
The company’s biggest investment area has always been in people. The talent and dedication on staff allowed the company to build a team across every department that is knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated. “We are always working on new ways to ensure they stay engaged and driven in their jobs so we can build and retain talent for years to come,” Procacci says.
Right now, the company is focused on living up to its one-stop-shop philosophy and trying to enhance the everyday items it can offer with the best quality and pricing. This is an ongoing process because Procacci Brothers wants to be able to take care of the entire produce and floral aisle for customers’ stores and restaurants.
Procacci Brothers recently set up an import office in south Florida to help with its line of tropical and exotic produce. Its goal is to build relationships with various growers to strengthen its buying power and allow it to capitalize on the growing demand for these items.
Procacci Brothers will work to sustain its relationships and reliability amid competition. Consolidation is happening all around, so its business will get more competitive.
“We have to provide value between the solutions we can provide for customers with marketing and merchandising,” Director of Marketing Frank Paone says. “It is of tremendous value to them if we can creatively and productively help them attract shoppers to their store for these products.”