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PMA Fresh Summit gave General Produce chance to celebrate success

Executive Vice President Randy Lineberger has been with General Produce for 20 years. (Photo by Chip Carter)

FOREST PARK, GA — The employees at General Produce Inc., one of the larger companies on the Atlanta State Farmers Market, are glad that the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit show, held Oct. 14-17 in Atlanta, is over.

Having the show in its own backyard gave General Produce a chance to show off and celebrate its continued success. But it also meant a week of tours for vendors and customers, manning a booth at the Atlanta Convention Center and hosting one of Fresh Summit’s most impressive parties Oct. 15 at the Hard Rock Cafe.

“It was a whirlwind, but it was a great chance for us to meet some new people and spend some time with our vendor-partners and customers,” said Sales Manager Andrew Scott.

Providing tours also let vendors and customers see how General’s prime location on the Atlanta Market positions the company for top-notch service.

“We’re right off Interstate 75, and the junctions of I-20 and I-85 are near here as well. The proximity of the interstate system makes for a very convenient, easy logistic location,” Mr. Scott said. “Plus being on the south side of Atlanta, it’s not too congested with traffic. That helps us get to our customers on time, and it’s also a good way for trucks to deliver to us as well. The Market also gives us good flexibility — we receive from 9 p.m. until noon or one the next day. We’re perfectly positioned, we’re in good proximity to where all our products are grown. From Florida citrus and vegetables to the Georgia crop, we are always able to get the freshest product available and deliver it overnight to 11 states.”

Over the past half-century, Atlanta’s General Produce Inc. has grown from a small purveyor of bananas to one of the Southeast’s larger distributors, serving retail, wholesale and foodservice. As the company has expanded its reach throughout the Southeast, cross-docks in four locations have helped General grow without compromising its standards. Earlier this month, the company opened its newest cross-dock facility on the State Farmers Market in Starke, FL.

The Starke cross-dock “is going great,” said Executive Vice President Randy Lineberger. “We spent some money down there, and it’s going to serve us well as a cross-dock location. It’s right at the end of the line where the drive-and-drop drivers can deliver, turn around, and come back and still be legal — that’s our whole objective there, to keep the drivers legal. But it’s also going to allow us to be able to pick up a pretty good number of retail stores in that area — we expect 12-14 new retail accounts and have already signed on the dotted line for those deals. We already had a need down there; now the need is going to be even greater. It was a gamble we took, and it is paying off.” As has General’s investment in its other cross-docks in Thomasville and Savannah, GA, and Maiden, NC.

“All of our cross-dock facilities serve us well,” Mr. Lineberger said. “We can leave out of here and, even at the furthest points, we’ll be through delivering at 1 a.m. We pass it along around midnight, they take off with it and boom — it’s there.”

Even though General’s location on the Atlanta Market is prime, the company’s success has it needing more room — again. General has expanded several times over the years; now the company needs even more space and is weighing options.

But there is no doubt General will always have its home in Atlanta.

Mr. Scott said, “We’re in the capitol of the Southeast, and a lot of our success is due to location — where we’re at and where we can get to overnight. It’s all about freshness, all about just-in-time delivery. You call us by noon and we deliver by that night or the next day.”