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R.A.M. a stable force on Detroit Terminal Market

R.A.M. Produce Distributors LLC has been a fixture on the Detroit Terminal Market for more than 30 years, working with major wholesalers, independent and major chain retailers (such as Kroger and Meijer), foodservice and the segment of businesses that includes farmers markets, fruit stands and gourmet stores.

The company distributes more than 300 produce items in and around Detroit, including outlier Michigan cities and into Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and parts of Canada.

Mike Bommarito, president of the Detroit-based company, noted overall 2018 was better than 2017.

“We’re mostly status quo but everything looked good last year, and we’re moving right along,” he said. “We’re seeing people looking for more and more organics, so that’s certainly a trend we have paid attention to.”

There hasn’t been too much other change in product demand lately, with the company handling a lot of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and other vegetables, including hothouse products.

“We do a lot with greenhouse tomatoes and peppers now, as the organic trend continues,” Bommarito said. “We’re affiliated with Livonia, MI-based Mastronardi Produce, plus other people in Canada that we deal with.”

If there’s one thing Bommarito has learned in all his years of the business, it’s that it’s important to give the customers what they want. Often that’s the best quality at the cheapest, available price. Combined with great service, that formula has made the company a success.

One challenge that the company has faced recently is that people have been more lax with payments.

“People have been slow in paying us in a timely manner and I’m not sure why that is,” he said. “Normally, we get on the phones to deal with it and the customers are usually good about dealing with it, but we never used to have make the calls. I’m not sure what it is about the economy that has changed that.”

R.A.M. Produce Distributors currently has 30,000 square feet of space on the terminal floor and another 55,000-square-foot warehouse off-site.

Bommarito has seen Detroit go through changes since his time first coming to the market in 1987. Back then, he noted, there were a lot more players in the game, and his company has helped pick up the slack from many of the companies that have disappeared.

“Detroit is really coming back strong, opening new restaurants and the downtown area is getting revitalized,” he said. “That helps our industry. Plus, all the food programs on the Food Channel are really helping our industry. The chefs are constantly looking for new products.”

Over the last couple of years, the company has added several new sales people, which has helped increase business. Bommarito is also excited that both his sons are now working with him at R.A.M. Produce Distributors; Jim has been with the company for 15 years, while Justin just came on board last summer.

“It’s great to work with your kids every day,” Bommarito said. “We have our moments, and they sometimes have different ideas, but sometimes those ideas are better than mine. You have to role with the punches with the new guys who know how to do things differently than the way I used to do it, but in the long run, we work together really well.”