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A time of growth for Nickey Gregory Co.

The Nickey Gregory Co. has long been a leader in produce distribution in the Southeast, and it’s now making big news by adding its own fresh-cut processes division, Family Fresh Foods.

“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a number of years and we finally jumped in and bought about $3 million worth of equipment, all state of the art,” said Andrew Scott, director of marketing and business development for the Atlanta-based company. “And we’re jumping into the game of processing. As a wholesaler, it’s kind of another service you’re providing as well, similar to a small regional processor.”

The plan, he said, is to sell items from the Family Fresh Foods line to Nickey Gregory’s current customer base.

2017-SEPC-boothThe Nickey Gregory Co. team showcasing their products.“So it’s items that we used to buy second hand, shall we say, and now we’re doing it ourselves,” Scott said. “It’s lots of veggies and some fruit, but mainly veggies is what we’re doing. And we’re also making a lot of school packs, which are two-ounce, half-cup portions that you see in schools and the cafeterias. We’ve got a machine that does that.”

The process division started last July, and it’s been growing ever since.

“It’s right here in the Atlanta State Farmers Market,” Scott said. “Something else that’s new is we’ve gone from one building on the Atlanta Market to three buildings and that totals close to 150,000 square feet of space for us in all three buildings.”

Those buildings include a main wholesale building, a building with the processing facility, and a building that is home to the company’s cross stocking and the Nickey Gregory Co.’s tomato business.

“We do a lot of tomatoes so we’ve got a new washer for washing tomatoes, and we’re expanding the tomato department as well with processing, and that’s going really well,” Scott said.

“Since it is Georgia, we do support and buy a lot of Georgia-Grown products, and that season is just kicking in right now. Yellow squashes and zucchini are already showing up in south Georgia; we’re big supporters.”

It’s those kinds of initiatives that have helped make the company the success it is.

“We’re growing every year in sales, and our customer base is going very well,” Scott said. “It’s been a good start to the year in 2019 for this company.”

He also said that the market is poised to make a comeback after the damage to crops caused by Hurricane Michael.

“It’s been a real challenge for those farmers and growers down there,” Scott said. “That hurricane came up through the Gulf and had a lot of salt, rain, and salt spray and salt water in those clouds, and that really hurt the ground with all that salt. But they’re rebounding, it’s supposed to be a good spring crop down in south Georgia.”

He’s also expecting a good season with peaches, largely because there were no freezes.

“The crop looks really good for the peaches growing in south and central Georgia,” Scott said.

“From what I hear, I think the crops are going to be pretty good down there in south Georgia getting started. You’re talking about a lot of rain but not a lot of cold to hurt things,” he added.