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For Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., success comes down to commitment

By
Keith Loria

The produce world is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dedicated professionals at Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. continue to face some big challenges that they’ve been dealing with for a year now.

auerbach“Importing product is very hard, getting containers cleared from the ports is very, very time consuming — it can take up to two weeks to get a container off the pier, get it inspected and cleared,” said Bruce Klein, marketing manager for the Secaucus, NJ-based company. “Between COVID-19, the weather and everything else that you can throw into it, it’s very, very difficult to import product via ship.”

But the company has persevered through the hard work of its leaders and employees.

“Fortunately, everybody’s in the same boat, so to speak,” Klein said. “There isn’t anyone getting stuff earlier than us; you try to have extra product if you can, but in some instances where product is extremely tight, you’re working day to day and hoping you get the product you need.”

Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. is a major player on the Hunts Point Produce Market, where it sells to various partners and also makes purchases itself.

“It’s the largest market in the country, the most produce goes through that market,” Klein said of Hunts Point. “And they supply a big variety of different outlets that we don’t supply. We’re perfectly situated to get to them in less than an hour, there are a multitude of reasons we do a lot of business in the market.”

Among the trends Klein is noticing is an increased demand for ginger, and that’s something he’s seen at Hunts Point this year.

“It’s very, very hard to procure and hard to come by and prices are significantly higher than last year at this point, so ginger is a difficult item,” he said.

As tough as things have been, there is hope that the spring will see better times, and Klein said the company is cautiously optimistic.

“We’re hoping to have a better spring, as people get vaccinated maybe things will change with foodservice, and restaurants will get busier,” he said. “But who knows? They’re talking about new strains of the virus. Right now, it’s a crapshoot and you have to take this day by day and navigate the waters on a daily basis.”

The company is doing that by fulfilling the needs of its existing customers, some of whom Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. has been doing business with at Hunts Point Produce Market for 30 years.

“That is our goal, to make sure we have product for the customers we’ve had for years and years,” Klein said. “Going after new businesses is not a strategy for the short-term. Long-term maybe, but short-term is to make sure we take care of our existing customers.”

The trusted relationships Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. has established through the years are another key to its success during these challenging times.

“Our customers are understanding because they hear from our competitors,” Klein said. “For the most part our customers work with us, if we have to deliver the next day, they’re understanding.”

 

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