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Nickey Gregory expands from Atlanta base to Miami market

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Nickey Gregory, owner of the Nickey Gregory Co., in his office on the Atlanta State Farmers Market. (Photo by Chip Carter)

FOREST PARK, GA — One of the larger distributors on the Atlanta State Farmers Market now is a major new player on the Miami market. In February, the Atlanta-based Nickey Gregory Co. opened a new warehouse on the Miami market that extends its reach throughout the Southeast.

The company now offers delivery within a 750-mile radius of the Atlanta Market, covering Georgia, North and South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia with its own fleet of climate-controlled trucks.

A full-service fresh produce company, Gregory stocks over 300 fresh produce items daily to supply wholesale, retail and foodservice accounts. The company sources from local farmers in season, as well as growers throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, Mexico and Holland.

“We keep growing. I think this is going to be a great year for us, going to Miami. It was definitely a good market for us,” said owner Nickey Gregory. “We realized that there weren’t really a whole lot of wholesalers in South Florida; the majority of them are foodservice.”

Half of Gregory’s space will be refrigerated, half will be reserved “for the little guys,” Mr. Gregory said.

The company got an unexpected break in March when a mushroom distributor on the market pulled out of Miami. “In turn, we took over their building — we didn’t have a mushroom source really, and all the guys down there needed a job. It’s been a real good move for us, and a good addition for Atlanta and Miami. We made the deal on Wednesday and opened on Monday. We couldn’t have done that if we didn’t have a lot of people who knew what they were doing.”

Fuel was a key consideration in the Miami move, but there have been other benefits as well, so much so that the company is now looking to expand north, possibly into Virginia.

“We do a lot of consolidating, and Miami’s been good for us for that. Transportation-wise, our road drivers actually have it easy now. Anything in South Florida, Miami consolidates it, picks it up for us, puts it back on the trailer. When we go down at night, they just unload, reload and we have teams that drive to Miami, so most of the time we’re back in Atlanta by noon. So if we’re short on anything in Atlanta, we’re no longer short because Atlanta’s trucks don’t really leave until two or three in the afternoon.”

The Miami location also has helped Gregory take advantage of the trend away from speculation buying and towards just-in-time service.

“People are waiting until the last minute to see how much they’ve sold,” Mr. Gregory said.

Economic factors have impacted the market, but wholesalers have made out better than most, Mr. Gregory said.

“The great thing about being in the wholesale business is you do work both sides. Retail sales are up considerably, foodservice has kind of tapered off a little bit. When the money gets tight, people go back to cooking and don’t eat out as much. We’re in a good role there; we’re about 50-50 probably,” Mr. Gregory said. Still, “You have to be aggressive, and you have to hustle. That’ll never change.”