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Rocky Produce is looking forward to a sunny summer

By
Keith Loria

The people at Rocky Produce work hard, but it’s work they love and take a great deal of pride in.

The Detroit, MI-based company is dedicated to bringing the best fruits and vegetables to stores and restaurants throughout Michigan, and Dominic Russo, a member of the company’s sales team, is enthusiastic about this season and Michigan-grown crops such as asparagus and radishes.

“The Michigan spring crops are just starting up, that’s always fun to see,” Russo said. “We enjoy participating in that and we’re glad to see our Michigan growers doing well and we want them to continue to do well. It’s good for our community, it’s good for our state and our region. And we also appreciate partnering alongside many of those growers and developing relationships and partnerships so that we can represent their products.”

He added that California stone fruit is coming in, and that their quality is excellent. The Mexican grape season has been a success, and California’s grape season is kicking in as well.

“It’s great to see those summer fruits,” Russo said. “California cantaloupes have started, strawberries are coming out of California heavy, it’s good to see the volumes coming in, and blueberries have started up on the East Coast, that’s always good to see. That’s what makes the business fun, all these growing areas, they pop up from one place to the next.”

Those delicious fruits are sure to be enjoyed in abundance as people start to socialize and head to restaurants again after months of quarantining due to the coronavirus. Russo said Rocky Produce has been fortunate during this challenging time.

“We’re very thankful to be in the produce business,” he said. “There’s been a great demand for fruits and vegetables on the retail side of things.”

That’s largely because people have been cooking at home more because restaurants are closed, and they also want to eat healthier to help boost their immune systems.

“Retail has been very strong, stronger than in normal years,” Russo said. “Food service, obviously we’ve lost 90 percent of that and that’s just starting to come back now that Michigan is opening up in a week or so.”

Not that the virus didn’t create some challenges. Rocky Produce was working with a reduced staff in the late winter and early spring because it took precautions to ensure the health and safety of employees.

“That was really challenging to deal with,” Russo said. “We don’t have, that we know of, any positive tests. But anybody who had any kind of symptoms, we allowed them to stay home and quarantine to get better and come back healthy.”

There were also instances where employees needed to stay home with spouses or family members who needed to be cared for.

“It was a struggle, but as a company we stuck together and worked the best we could to help each other out, get the job done and take care of our customers,” Russo said. “It all worked out and in the end this will be behind us.”

Whatever challenges they face, the people at Rocky Produce continue to move forward in order to maintain their outstanding reputation in Michigan.

“It seems to get more competitive each and every year,” Russo said of Michigan’s produce scene. “It always has been and I’m sure it always will be. We roll with it and rely on our relationship with our shipper and we have the right growers on our side and they allow us to represent the product. As long as we have that and we’re doing the right things for our customers, treating them the right way with the highest level of integrity that we strive for, then we’re always going to have that to stand on. That’s what we’re about and we never stop trying to improve and putting our best foot forward.”

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