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New wholesaler sets up shop on the L.A. Market

A produce veteran and a newcomer to the agricultural industry have opened a wholesale house on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. The two are also combining their talents, with one being a longtime business owner and the other making his first foray into being a principal. And finally, the duo has another link: one is married to the other’s daughter.

Darrell Beyer

Darrell Beyer, a produce veteran with deep roots in the industry, and his father-in-law, Alan Gordon, a newcomer to produce who has had a 30-year career owning a textile company in Los Angeles, have formed City Ag LLC, a new wholesale operation that has two-and-a-half doors in Building 500 at the Los Angeles Produce Market.

Alan Gordon

“We work great together,” said Mr. Beyer, whose father and grandfather have long been in the Southern California produce business. “His job is to babysit the whole kit and caboodle. He’s watching the books but he also knows how to keep me in line. I have a lot of crazy ideas, and he has very good in-the-box thinking.”

The company is handling a number of different items such as mixed melons, pineapples, mangos, strawberries, avocados and Persian limes, but it is also moving toward having a full line of organic fruits and vegetables.

“Not too many people are handling organics on this market,” said Mr. Beyer. “This should be a good niche for us.”

Darrell Beyer got his start in the produce business in the mid-1990s, loading trucks at Sam Perricone Citrus Co. His grandfather, Hank Beyer, was a longtime partner with Mr. Perricone in both that operation and a number of others.

The younger Mr. Beyer stayed with Perricone Citrus and then moved to several other wholesale operations over the years. During the past 15 years, he has handled a wide variety of fresh items such as citrus, avocados, melons and an organic produce line — not coincidentally very similar to the line of products his new company is offering.

“We’re looking for good people to do business with,” he said.

The company opened its doors in the middle of July, and since then Mr. Beyer said that chainstores as well as the many cash buyers that frequent the market on a daily basis are among the firm’s early customers.

“We’ll work with anybody who needs fruit,” he said. “I’ve been on the street a long time, and I know it is very competitive. I know you offer something to somebody at $12 and they say they’ll give you $4. “What happened to all that space in between?” he joked.

Regarding the organic line the company is carrying, Mr. Beyer said that City Ag is finding most of its customers in other markets around the country. “That is turning out to be a shipping deal,” he said.

Mr. Beyer said that both his retired grandfather Hank and his father, Steve, who works in sales at Sun Pacific Marketing Cooperative in Los Angeles, have given him great tips as he embarks on his own.

“They have a wealth of knowledge,” he said.