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Nickey Gregory Co. celebrates 20th anniversary

Nickey Gregory literally grew up on Atlanta’s wholesale produce market as his parents had an operation on the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park, GA.

His earliest memories date back to trips to the market when he was as young as 5. By the time he graduated from nearby Forest Park High School, the family no longer had a business on the market, but Gregory was hooked on the profession and it was where he looked for work.Bldg-N-35Nickey Gregory and his wife, Cheryl.

“He has worked on this market for his whole produce life,” said Andrew Scott, director of business development for Nickey Gregory Co.

By the late 1980s, Gregory was general manager of General Produce and then president of Mitt Parker Co. when it was bought out by FreshPoint at the end of the 1990s.

Gregory did not miss a beat opening the Nickey Gregory Co. on the market on Jan. 1, 2000. The firm is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020 with a significant move that in some ways completes the circle for Gregory. Scott explained that in fall of 2019 General Produce closed its doors after being bought, leaving its place in building M of the market available.

Nickey Gregory has since seized the opportunity to consolidate its four Atlanta Market warehouses into two locations. “We are in the process of taking over building M,” said Scott in early February, noting that the company’s president is coming back to the business address where he first was in senior management. “We should be completely moved in within two weeks.”

The company is refurbishing Building H to house its Family Fresh Foods division, which is its processing arm involved mostly with developing packs for foodservice.

Nickey Gregory Co., which is the parent company and the wholesale operation, will move all operations into Building M.

Scott remarked that the firm’s growth has been constant since its inception, with especially strong sales over the past handful of years. “We have doubled our sales in the past five years,” he said.

From the one stall operation 20 years ago, Nickey Gregory now occupies more than 150,000 square feet on the Atlanta market. It also runs a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Miami and another 20,000-square-foot space in White Springs, FL. The firm employs more than 200 people and has expanded service well beyond its core business of being a wholesale distributor of fresh produce.

As mentioned, it does a robust processing business under the banner of Family Fresh Foods. The Miami warehouse enables it to more efficiently serve its customers, which are primarily scattered throughout south Florida. Scott said the White Springs facility features cross docking operations that allows for great efficiencies for the firm’s logistics company, Gregory Family Express.

Scott noted that it runs many of its Florida orders directly from Atlanta to White Springs where they are transferred to local trucks for delivery throughout Florida.

“Our trucks can get from Atlanta to White Springs and back in 12 hours, which allows us to stay within the hours of operation rules (of the federal Department of Transportation),” said Scott.

The company’s customers dot the map with its service areas encompassing the East Coast from the southern tip of Florida to the Virginias. The trucks go as far west as Louisiana. “Any farther west and you are bumping into the service areas of the big companies from St. Louis, Dallas and Houston,” said Scott. “They have a competitive advantage west of Louisiana.”

Nickey Gregory’s southern reach actually extends into the Caribbean as it ships containers from Miami to a number of island retailers. Scott said those ships load every week and take three to seven days to reach the various tropical destinations.

Helping in its logistics efficiencies, the trucks going the farthest west typically stop in Gulfport, MS, to pick up bananas for the backhaul to the Atlanta State Farmers Market warehouse.

The full-service wholesaler sources from all over the U.S. and also carries a full line of imports. Scott said the company has many vendors but it is a traditional wholesaler with no growing operations.

As a southeastern company, Nickey Gregory has had a very close relationship with the Southeast Produce Council since its inception, which is closely aligned with the wholesaler’s timeline.

“I’ve been involved with SEPC since 2001, including serving on the board for many years as well as a term as president,” said Scott. “It’s a great organization.”

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