Indianapolis Fruit Company
Since 1947 Indianapolis Fruit Company (IFC) has been providing grocers with fresh fruits and vegetables. IFC started as a family-owned and -operated business, and remains one today; the tradition started with Joe Mascari and Danny Corsaro and is now carried on through owners Mike and Chris Mascari, Joe and Danny Corsaro and Pete Piazza.
Over the years the business has grown to include a fleet of more than 150 refrigerated trucks servicing several states from the Southeast up through the northern Midwest and a dedicated team of over 350 employees.
In 1997, the company combined operations with another Indianapolis-based produce company, Piazza Produce. Today, the businesses work in conjunction to provide the food service and retail industries with fruit, vegetables, dairy and floral products. IFC’s combined operations with its affiliated companies include a fleet of over 300 refrigerated trucks, four facilities, totaling over 200,000 square feet of warehouse space, as well as more than 750 employees with hundreds of years of produce and related experience.
“We started as a family-owned and -operated business and are proud to remain one today,” Mike explains. “It’s a tradition that started with Uncle Joe and is carried on today with our current owners, Chris, Joe, Danny, Pete and myself.”
Reaching a broad market
IFC’s target market consists of independent retailers, although the company has diversified to service chain retailers, wholesalers and convenience stores, as well. The IFC team works with clients to determine product lines and inventory capacities that work for each individual business. “There is no one program that fits all of our customers,” Mike notes. “Each group deserves our respect and understanding in regards to how much they are able to handle. Passion, quality, service and customer focus are what we focus on to keep moving the business forward.”
IFC allocates its operation among its facilities. One exclusively serves as tomato operation, while the other locations handle a variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy and flowers, as well as the processing of value-added, fresh cut products.
“Because our physical plants are not overly large, we focus on turnover and constantly improving our supply chain logistics,” Mike notes. “Economies of scale can be achieved in different ways: marketing, managerial leadership, purchasing, technical and financial. We focus on optimizing and leveraging the size of our operation through communication, leadership and flexibility.”
The company’s product offering is steady, with variation for trends. “Right now, the consumer’s appetite and desire to eat healthy continue to grow and evolve,” Mike exemplifies. “Organic food products and the drumbeat of the locally produced mantra continue to grow. There are always new products coming to market, whether from our vendor partner community or the IFC Garden Cut and FreshPack operations.”
Keeping it fresh
The IFC team has managed to keep the business strong, despite pressure from the economic recession and changing regulations. “We have been very fortunate over the last five years amid a sluggish economic recovery,” Mike explains. “I am an optimist and I tend to view the world through rose-colored glasses.”
Competitive threats are an ongoing challenge for the team. With a presence in such a broad market, Mike says the threat of competition comes in from all angles. “I am a believer that competition can help make us better operators,” he notes. “However, it is a challenge to make sure all our associates are channeling the challenges, opportunities and frustrations that can accompany it. Someone said all these different challenges can be instruments of focus and daring. It is up to us to come to work prepared to lead and continually renew our team’s values of customer focus, achievement, expertise and the Golden Rule.”
In addition to constant diligence to supply stability, IFC has launched a new marketing initiative. In 2012, the company introduced The Produce Mom, a program designed to promote nutritional education for consumers.
“The Produce Mom’s mission is to help the consumer with feeding their family with delicious, nutritious, convenient and affordable fresh produce items,” Mike details. “The Produce Mom has partnered with some of the produce industry’s top labels for international marketing campaigns and has created the school food service program, Find Your Favorite, which inspires children to eat more fruits and vegetables. The Produce Mom has been recognized by several industry, governmental and other entities and agencies.”
IFC continues to grow as a leader in the regional market. The company’s emphasis on customer focus, achievement and expertise continues to attract business and keep it. Calling on close, lasting relationships with clients and strategic partners alike, the team works together to promote growth for Indianapolis Fruit Company, as well as the industry.