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Gourmet’s Finest celebrates 40th anniversary

In September, Gourmet’s Finest Mushroom Co. gathered its team members for a special celebration, honoring the 40 years the Avondale, PA-based mushroom producer has been in business.

“We’re having a big party with all our people and we have quite a few people who have been here for the whole 40 years, and many others who have been here 30-35 years, so it’s a close-knit family-oriented company,” said Alan Kleinman, sales and business development manager for the company. “We’re very proud of the first 40, we have a third-generation coming in and we are looking forward to carrying on the tradition for the next 40 years.”

IMG 0520Gourmet’s Finest’s new quality assurance manager, John Morton.The secret to employee longevity, he noted, is being fair, treating people well and supplying workers with what they need. They are always there to help if someone needs it.

The biggest buzz around the company continues to be the rising interest in mushrooms among consumers and how it’s impacted the growth of Gourmet’s Finest. The company is in the midst of a major expansion and has recently added several innovative offerings to its product line.

“Business has been really good and we are looking forward to the expansion getting underway,” Kleinman said. “The bottom line is we could sell as many mushrooms as we grow with or without an expansion.”

The challenges of that, however, are labor and trucking. These two components are the biggest things impacting the industry and Kleinman feels unless the problems get solved, a rise in mushroom production may not be possible because there’s not enough people to pick, pack and deliver.

“We’re finding it hard to find labor, so what good does it do to have more of anything if you can’t get it off the beds and have someone pick it,” Kleinman said. “Trucking is also a huge issue because you can interview 1,000 truck drivers and the last thing they want to haul is produce. They don’t like to make multiple stops, they don’t like to have fragile merchandise and be on a timeline.”

Still, Gourmet’s Finest hopes to do more and are fighting to get up that hill to accomplish that.

“There are companies around here fighting every day to get their crops finished and thankfully, we have a good crew here and a majority of them have been around a long time,” Kleinman said. “Our drivers have been with us a long time as well, but when a guy retires, he’s tough to replace. Or if someone goes on vacation or goes back to Mexico, it’s a constant battle for us. It’s tough to be a farmer.”

Behind the scenes at the company, John Morton has joined as the new quality assurance manager for Gourmet’s Finest.

“He’s doing a great job keeping us ready for audits and all the things that a quality assurance person needs to do,” Kleinman said. “There’s so many different things that you’re doing for either a good safety program or agriculture practices, or getting audited by whatever company you are doing business with. It’s something that needs to be done well and we’re happy to have him here.”