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A difficult economy is still the order of the day. As such, Robert Goldstein, president and owner of Genpro Inc., said that it is of the utmost importance that the company excels in the service that it provides.

"The good news is that people have to eat, but the bad news is that everyone wants more for less," Mr. Goldstein said of current economic conditions. To survive in such difficult times, he stated, "You have to provide great service and market that service to your customers."

Genpro was founded in 1989 by Mr. Goldstein, who comes from several generations of experience in the transportation industry. Genpro began as a truck brokerage operation with two employees, specializing in the transport of perishable commodities. Today, the firm's corporate office is located in Rutherford, NJ, and there are five regional operating centers across the United States that manage a diverse mix of perishable and non-perishable freight movements for more than 500 customers.

Mr. Goldstein said that a majority of the firm's business is fresh produce but that it also arranges for transportation services in other freight arenas. "We are a national company and service all of the regular shipping areas in the United States," he said.

Speaking to The Produce News in mid-January, Mr. Goldstein said that fuel prices are up, which has resulted in higher freight rates. He also said that there are fewer trucks on the road, which has also contributed to higher freight rates. Relatively speaking, fuel rates were very reasonable in 2010, which allowed freight rates to moderate a bit. That may not be the case in 2011 if fuel costs continue to rise. He said that fuel is about 50 cents more per gallon than it was a year ago and has increased about 15 cents per gallon in the last several weeks.

"Fuel price volatility definitely leads to freight rate fluctuations," he said. "We've had a lot of volatility over the last three years, and if fuel prices continue to rise, you'll see higher rates."

Mr. Goldstein said that there continues to be increasing interest in other forms of transportation such as rail cars and intermodal, but for the fresh produce industry, trucks are still king. "There is some diversification going on which can cost us [truck providers] some market share, but we offer a service that rail can't offer, such as just-in-time deliveries."

While Mr. Goldstein expects no major issues to surface in the truck transportation business in 2011, he said that the perishable trucking industry continues to have a great deal of turnover. "That just seems to be part of the business. For a lot of different reasons, there is a lot of turnover. One reason is that in produce we deal with a lot of truck providers that are very small. So we constantly have drivers that leave this industry, but we also have people looking at the financial situation [relatively good rates] and decide to come into this end of the business."

He added that the industry is cyclical which makes it difficult to do business, but it also gives his company the opportunity to offer great service and rise above its competitors.