Mike Cochran, vice president of Robt. T. Cochran & Co. Inc. at the Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx, NY, joined his father’s business in 2003. Today, the 29-year-old is well acclimated to the produce industry, including the often tedious work schedule and long hours.
“I go to work at 1 a.m. — and sometimes earlier — and I leave around noon or 1 in the afternoon,” said Mr. Cochran. “Basically, I do whatever I have to do to get the job done before I call my workday finished.”
His great-great grandfather Richard Cochran founded the business 118 years ago, and it has been based at Hunts Point since the market opened in 1967. His great-grandfather Thomas Fletcher took it over as the second generation to lead the company, and his grandfather Robert Cochran II followed in his footsteps. Mike Cochran’s father, Richard Cochran, took over the helm next, and he serves as the company’s president today.
Following his graduation from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, in 2003, Mr. Cochran planned was to work in a field other than the produce industry — at least for a while. “I was doing some job hunting, but in the fall after my graduation, one of dad’s sales representatives left the company and he asked me to come on board,” said Mr. Cochran. “Growing up, I visited the office occasionally, but I didn’t work at the company. Most night work involves heavy machinery, so it’s not an environment for a kid. Today, I do a bit of everything, but primarily I work in sales. Dad’s happy that I’m with the company today.”
Robt. T. Cochran handles a full line of fruits and vegetables, including potatoes, onions and tropical fruits. Its customers are primarily major retailers, independents, wholesalers and foodservice operators, and the company sources its products from all major growing areas.
Mr. Cochran married his wife, Michelle, about three years ago. She is an accountant for Deloitte & Touche, the international audit, consulting, financial-advisory, risk-management and tax firm. The couple met when they were in college together.
“Our work schedules are pretty rigorous, so when we do have time together, we enjoy going out to dinner,” said Mr. Cochran. “We also like to travel. Sometimes we’ll go to Newport, Rhode Island, for a break, and when we can count on great weather, we like to go to the Caribbean, sometimes on a cruise. We have also vacationed in Aruba. We like weather that guarantees us that we can lay on the beach for a week.”
Mr. Cochran said that he would like to get back to playing golf, which he enjoyed when he was younger. He also enjoys snowboarding, usually in Vermont. Ms. Cochran likes to play tennis, something she did a lot of when she was in high school. The couple plans to have children in the future.
“Michelle and I bought an older house in Connecticut, about an hour commute from the Bronx,” Mr. Cochran said. “The company is closed on Saturday and Sunday, but I start my work week at about 1 a.m. on [Monday morning]. We spend most weekends doing things around the house, and we plan to do some pretty major renovations in the future, so it’s taking up a lot of our personal time. Weekends for us go quickly.”
Robert Cochran serves on the board of the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Market, so he is involved in the ongoing discussions over the decision either to renovate the existing market or relocate it to a new facility in New Jersey.
“We certainly need an updated facility,” said Mike Cochran. “And we’ll have it, one way or another. We’re just making do with the space we have today. Everyone agrees that something has to be done — and soon. For the moment, we’re just waiting to see what happens.”
Mr. Cochran said that he considers his family’s business to be a permanent career choice.
“All aspects of this business are enjoyable, and every day brings something new,” he said. “Sometimes, due to weather or other situations, items are in short supply, and what there is available is very expensive and not great quality. But people buy like crazy during those times because they have to have product. When fruits and vegetables are in ample supply, however, this business gets really competitive.
“It’s the produce business,” he continued. “And as such, every day brings something new. It’s what makes it so interesting and enjoyable.”