Community Suffolk moving into a new facility
Community-Suffolk Inc. has more than seven decades of produce experience, which began back in the early 20th century by Larry Piazza Sr., who sold produce from a pushcart operating out of Boston’s Faneuil Hall.
“Through hard work and fair trade, he was integral in each new produce center that came on line,” said Steven Piazza, managing partner for Everett, MA-based Community-Suffolk. “We have photos of him with horse and buggies in the background. He was a leader in the area from the very beginning.”
The company has grown and grown, becoming an integral part of both the Boston Market Terminal and the New England Produce Center and serving all of New England, New York and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
Community-Suffolk handles approximately 30 different commodities, including potatoes, celery, carrots, broccoli, onions, lettuce and associated greens, spinach, artichokes, squash, peppers and rutabagas, and also operates a citrus division dealing with oranges, lemons, limes, clementines, pummelos and murcotts, along with apples and pears.
The company is known for its private label offerings. Its proprietary Rosebud brand Heart of the Harvest has been in use for decades, and its MF (Mighty Fine) label is used for its citrus division.
The big news for Community-Suffolk is that in 2021 it will be moving into a new facility.
“We are excited about it,” Piazza said. “It’s going to be modernized, efficient and I think everyone will be charged up for it.”
It’s some good news after a year that offered lots of uncertainties because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Community-Suffolk was proud that it didn’t need to lay anyone off during the time, and were helpful in keeping some of its customers stay afloat and keep their employees going.
“We have been fortunate,” Piazza said. “We’ve always had one leg in the retail and one leg in the foodservice, and we put a little more focus into the retail end with some success. Basically, because of our familiar customer base, and the quality and variety of product we handle, we were able to remain strong.”
Not that it came easy. Piazza noted it took “extra hustle and extra work” to ensure Community-Suffolk could maintain its volume and provide its customers with everything they needed. Plus, the company is not afraid to adapt, whether that means in bringing in a new type of melon that someone asks for, or switching to bagged items to handle the rising demand.
Plus, it’s made a lot of changes around its infrastructure to ensure everyone is safe and secure.
“We have masks available for everyone, gloves as well,” Piazza said. “We have different setups in different locations in the warehouse and office. We’re cleaning all surfaces, including equipment, steering wheels, phones, and everything gets wiped down 3-4 times a day. You have to be vigilant constantly. The health of our employees and customers is important to us.”
Piazza noted the whole leadership team does what it can to keep morale up during a time when many are down because of what’s happening in the world and the challenges facing the market.
“To end up as content at the end of the day with what you’ve done and what you’ve sold, that is what keeps our team upbeat and enthused,” he said. “We are doing what we can to stay positive.”