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									California Produce is a family-owned company started by my Dad in 1946 after he
returned from World War 2. We started serving independent markets during those days
long before the advent of the supermarkets and their system of purchasing. He, then,
added many independent restaurants by the 1960’s. Our premise in those days was
good quality product, service, and value.

I took over the operations in the early 1980’s and proceeded with those same principles
after having grown up in the business. We have grown considerably since those early
days and now include many upscale hotels, fine dining restaurants, Las Vegas casinos,
and many small-to-medium chains.

We now cover establishments from Santa Barbara to San Diego and to Palm Springs.
We also cover many properties in Las Vegas, with our biggest being the MGM-Mirage
casinos and many of the boutique restaurants within from Craft Steak House to Mix
restaurant and, even, Robuchon-the very extra fancy and only Michelin 3-star restaurant
in the US. As the MGM-Mirage prepares for the opening of the new “City Center”
several more units will come aboard. There will be several stalls for independent
restaurants here, of which, we will be getting the lions share.

We feel that we can differentiate ourselves from others because of several issues. One
of the most important is that because we know produce we search for the highest yields
on all products. If blueberries are packed in full pints you’ll get them over the 4.4 ounce
packs. A case of Roma tomatoes weighs 25#, that’s what you’ll get. It won’t be in a
special “California Produce box” that had to be ordered separately. Yields on lettuces
will be high since the labels we use we know from historical experience that they will
outweigh others at that particular time. We know that Fennel is packed in 24 ct cases,
not 12 counts. We buy from reputable growers who have long-standing safety measures
across the board installed in their respective operations.

 We have many direct buying outlets, but, we use the largest produce market in the
country here in LA for many of our other product procurements. For example, we will not
buy melons direct since sugar counts and flavor profiles will not always fit our criteria.
The LA market will have many other labels to choose from and our buyers must taste
first. Direct deals are nice but even the big boys-Dole, Chiquita, and Del Monte, can’t
guarantee a sweet melon year-round. However, many other items are direct deals.
During this trying time with prices for all lettuces “through the roof”, our key suppliers
have given us protection for many of our end-users.

We still have a very small warehouse. We run a very large company through this
building (Dad-owned). It forces both our buyers and floor receivers to move the product.
Again, being close to the LA market, our buyers have to be tight on their inventory. We
get deliveries all day and night long from both direct suppliers and the LA market. This
is better for the end-user because you will get a fresher product. We just don’t have the
capability to store product here for long. Each pallet stall is used with product moving in
and going out daily.

We offer many of our customers the ability to buy from the Santa Monica Farmers
Market, the largest in all of Southern California. We do a Wednesday and Saturday
market for many and we were the first to open this into the Las Vegas market, thus,
providing accessibility to many of the boutique restaurants there. They continue to use it
as well as many local entities here in Southern California.

We have managed to use the warehouse to our advantage by staging 2 sets of
operations in 1 building. We operate the Southern California business by staging and
dispatching from 10 pm to 6 am. The Las Vegas crew, then, operates from noon to 10
pm and those trucks are then dispatched up to Las Vegas.

Our buyers are a very dedicated group. Because of both the smallness of the facility
and my approach to purchasing, these buyers must move off their chairs and look and
taste much of the product before purchasing. Walking the street is a must for all of them
and this is done daily early in the morning. So, by using both the LA market and the
direct deals, we feel we can offer the end-user a better product overall.

Adding up all of the above, the history of our company will testify to our approach for the
long-term. I, as an owner-operator, will be responsible for this account. There will be no
sales staff to report to---our sales staff is very minimal. You will get weekly newsletters
on market reports, monthly usages broken down per unit , and customer service reports
on shorts/subs daily if the need arises. We have the ability to get e-mailed orders. Many
of our existing customers use this.

My approach is to run a “tight ship”, with as little overhead as possible, and finally, hard
work. It seems to have worked for all these years.

Alex Pappas

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