September, 2020

Post Archives

Spotlight Series ft. Kevin Mack

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Kevin Mack
Director of Operations, Tastyfrutti International

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CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your role at Tastyfrutti?  Did you always envision yourself involved in trade?

Kevin Mack (KM): I came into the fruit business completely by chance; I was just out of college and had no idea what I wanted to do. At that time, Dole was looking for someone to come to Philadelphia and work in the new Chilean deal they were starting. I applied for the position and got the job. Back then, the first Chilean ship arrived in January and the last ship finished in April. I would work for 4-5 months in Philadelphia and then go to California for the rest of the year, which I continued to do from 1980 to 1983. In California I would start with the growers in Coachella Valley and end with the growers in Fresno. It was a nomad life for sure, but the knowledge and experience from those 3 years were invaluable. In 1984 the Chilean deal was growing, so I decided to start my own expediting company in Philadelphia. I had that business for 2 years, and then in 1986, I joined Unifrutti of America. Andy Economou had just started Unifrutti of America in 1985. He was my boss at Dole, and I knew he was a consummate business man and would build Unifrutti of America into a large strong company. Throughout the 90’s the company grew and I continued to learn all aspects of the fruit business from the farm to the store–each year I went to Chile in the fall to meet the growers and understand the challenges they faced. We continued as Unifrutti of America until 2016, and at that point we became Tastyfrutti International, Inc.

CACC: How is your work at the Tastyfrutti connected to Chile?

KM: Although we import fruit from other countries, Chile is our main supplier. Our main fruit imports from Chile include grapes, stone fruit, pears, apples, and cherries. Over the years we have developed many strong bonds with Chilean growers and many good relationships. It is a beautiful country and every trip to Chile was a pleasure.

CACC: What is your favorite part of working within the maritime trade industry? 

KM: The maritime trade industry has been vital in advancing the Chilean deal in the Philadelphia region. The entire time I have been in the business, the maritime trade industry has promoted and helped move the Chilean deal forward into the success it is today. I enjoy working in the fruit industry and am amazed at the advances in the last 40 years. Information technology, refrigeration, logistics, food safety and new varieties have changed quite a bit since I first started. All of these fields are constantly improving and refining each year, and it is exciting to see new developments all the time.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

KM: The CACC is extremely valuable to our industry. They have been a leader in promoting the Chilean deal since the very beginning. The various functions the CACC hosts are excellent, but the one I look forward to the most is the Annual Friend of Chile Awards Luncheon.  It is always fun to see old friends and catch up.

Many thanks to Kevin for participating in this week’s Spotlight Series!

Upcoming Events and Programs from the CACC & International Partners

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Oct. 6th- 8th Vinos de Chile: Wine School

This course will help you amplify your knowledge of wine and of the international wine industry, it will allow you to obtain a technical and appropriate language to better relate you with international clients and partners.

Click here for directions to registration and more information 

Oct. 14th InvestChile: 5th American Digital Latin American Congress of Business and Technology

9:00 AM

Click here for registration and more information

Oct. 14th Ch1l3: Why Nearshoring IT Services is the Best Option NOW

12:00 PM- 1:30 PM

Click here for registration and more information

From Chile to Philly: Diversity in Business Creation

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Join us and ProChile on September 15th for the From Chile to Philly: Diversity in Business Creation webinar, hosted by B. Phl Innovation Fest! This informative webinar unveils Philadelphia’s robust and growing tech scene, and invites all businesses, especially those looking to pursue U.S. operations to tune in. This virtual event will consist of a series of speakers, tips and tricks for entering the Philadelphia market, success stories of Philadelphia and Chilean based IT firms, and provide an inside look at the progressive tech scene in Chile. This is an event that you don’t want to miss!

September 15th 

3:00 PM- 4:00 PM

Register here 

 

Spotlight Series ft. Kurt Reichert

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Kurt Reichert
Fumigation Director, Western Fumigation

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CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your role at Western Fumigation? 

Kurt Reichert (K.R.): I was originally hired over 30 years ago as a Fumigation Service Technician for the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut areas, handling sales and service. We had mostly food service companies back then- spice companies, pasta and baking ingredients, pet food, warehouses- that was all commercial work. This was before the days of cell phones, so I was pretty autonomous, which I liked. I didn’t work all that much with Chilean fruit back then, but I did make it down to Philadelphia on occasion.

Over the years, I worked myself up to the position of Master Technician through our in-house training program and the broad fumigation experience that I picked up along the way. We used to regularly fumigate large structures throughout the country, such as the old Philadelphia Nabisco plant. These were very complex jobs that required comprehensive planning, so I really enjoyed the challenges of these large scale fumigations.

In the fall of 2000, I was promoted to Service Supervisor. This began the phase of my career which really brought me into the Chilean fruit side of Western’s business. It also kicked off my involvement in the various regulatory issues that govern the fumigation industry. This involvement grew as I was promoted to Service Manager in the spring of 2010. It was here that I became more involved in the Chilean fruit sector of Western’s business. Operationally, this was probably my favorite point in my career at Western. I had the most exposure to our customers, particularly our Chilean fruit customers. In January of 2015, I was promoted to Fumigation Director after Mike O’Connor’s retirement.

Each of the early stages of my career helped to prepare me for the next stage. The operational knowledge and the business contacts gained along the way made it possible for me to lead the Fumigation Division in my current role.

CACC: How is your work at Western Fumigation connected to Chile?

K.R.: From the beginning of the Chilean fruit importation to the United States, Western was instrumental in working with the Chilean exporters, importers and the United States Department of Agriculture to get the program started. Through its humble beginnings, as the program grew, the Fumigation Director’s position was the primary contact point between Western and our customers. Fumigation is so fundamentally different than Western’s core pest control operations, that thankfully, early on, Western leadership saw the value of having an autonomous division with its own administrative staff. This allowed our division to concentrate on our Chilean fruit customers with a business plan that was unencumbered by the constraints of Western’s traditional pest control operations. It allows us to focus our customer service efforts on the Chilean trade- not just the importers and terminal operators in the U.S., but also with the growers, exporters and shipping lines which we regularly visit in Chile. Personal relationships are key in the Chilean trade.

CACC: What is your favorite part of working within the maritime trade industry? Also, at Western Fumigation?

K.R.: I really appreciate everything about the maritime trade industry! The relationships that I have made over the years, the number of family businesses involved in the Philly maritime trade, the long hard hours that maritime workers put in that make this trade possible and even the physical machinery necessary to move products to, and through the port. It is all very interesting to me, and I really enjoy seeing the dedication in this field, whether it is from a warehouse worker up to a terminal operator- everybody seems to really enjoy what they do. This is evident by the longevity that we see in the maritime related businesses. People here rarely leave this field. They may work for a different company than they did last year, but they rarely leave the maritime trade. The same is true for Western Fumigation employees. Our employee retention is head and shoulders above the usual retention rates in pest control operations. Some of our techs working for us today, started before, or shortly after I started with Western.

Within Western, I am most proud of the work that I have done, often behind the scenes, to protect and strengthen the Chilean trade. I have long worked on the methyl bromide re-registration front, serving on several committees defending methyl bromide and its availability and use in the U.S.. I have worked on the US Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committee to help keep the Port of Philadelphia secure. I have worked with regulators in NJ, PA and other states to keep the practice of fumigation available so that the Chilean trade can operate as freely as possible under growing regulatory pressures which our industry faces. In short, doing everything that time allows me to do to in order to keep the Chilean fruit flowing through our port.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

K.R.: I think what makes the CACC so special is the genuine way that it links Chile and the U.S.. So often trade groups ultimately operate to the benefit of specific parties in the organization, but over the years I have seen firsthand how the Chamber truly benefits both parties.

The events which the CACC hosts each year are always the highlight events of the year. They are well attended, professionally presented, and raise money for a host of initiatives which again, benefit both parties. They are always presented with entertaining guest speakers of a broad spectrum of businesses. They are held to benefit causes in Chile as well as the U.S. The greater Philadelphia area is very supportive of issues in Chile, as was seen during the relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Two of my most memorable events involved the visit by Chilean President Bachelet, as well as the visit by rescued miner Mario Sepulveda.

The CACC continues to work to improve and expand business relationships between Chile and the U.S. This expands well beyond the importation of Chilean wines, fish and fruit. Technology has been enjoying the benefit of the strong relationship between our two countries as well. As a leader in South American business and investment, Chile is a strong and stable trade partner to the U.S.

CACC: As you come upon retirement, what is one thing you will take away from your time at Western?

K.R.: In a word, pride. I am happy that I had a small part in the continued success of the Chilean trade in the port. Though I am beyond excited to move on to the next phase of my life, I am beginning to realize the hole that will be left in my life due to leaving Western. But I can leave knowing that I did my best.

I have always told myself that at the end of the day, the only person who needs to be satisfied with my work is me. I can honestly say that for most of my 11,183 days working for Western, I have met that threshold.

We send our thanks and heartfelt wishes for a wonderful retirement to Kurt!

Spotlight Series ft. Lisa Himber

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Lisa Himber

Vice President, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay

Lisa-Himber-Photo

CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your role at the Maritime Exchange?  Did you always envision yourself involved in trade?

 

Lisa Himber (LH): Thanks for asking, because this is actually one of my favorite stories.  The short answer is no, neither my education nor my work experience brought me to this industry, at least not by design.  I landed at the Maritime Exchange because I answered a blind ad for a job that turned out to be with Pete DuPont’s presidential campaign (I know, I’m completely dating myself).  It was there that I first met Dennis Rochford. When the campaign office closed, I needed a job.  Dennis had just recently started at the Exchange and needed some help.  So he ultimately offered me a position.  I had no particular interest in the maritime industry and certainly no desire to commute from Wilmington to Philadelphia, but I figured it was only temporary until I could land something closer to my interest and closer to home.  So now we know that “temporary” truly is a relative term.

CACC: How is your work at the Maritime Exchange connected to Chile?

LH: That’s the beautiful thing about working for the Exchange.  We are connected to just about everything having to do with seaport operations in one way or another. It’s what has kept my job so interesting all these years, it has kept me linked to countless members of our port community, and it’s what has kept the Exchange relevant and successful for over 140 years.

With Chile such a key trade partner for our ports, it’s no wonder the Exchange has worked to protect and bolster the important fruit and other cargoes moving between Chile and the tri-state region. We have opposed efforts to restrict the marketing order for Chilean grapes, we have advocated for alternatives to increasing USDA and CBP user fees for agriculture products, and we have championed efforts to improve processes associated with importing and transporting products from Chile. Even our efforts to change wood packing material inspection protocols have benefited our trade with Chile in the form of improved handling of the pallets on which breakbulk fruit from Chile arrives. Currently, with the financial support of ASOEX, the Chilean exporters association, the Exchange administers the Cold Storage Facility Task Force. This group developed best practices in order to improve worker safety and audits adherence to those practices annually.  And since USDA and CBP are in my wheelhouse at the Exchange, most of these initiatives are my responsibility.

CACC: What is your favorite part of working within the maritime trade industry? 

LH: I don’t even have to think about that one.  Without doubt, it’s the people.  The Maritime Exchange is a small shop — we’re only 14 people soaking wet.  Yet 300 companies in the region are members of the Exchange, and between them they employ thousands of people.  I consider them as co-workers too.  Members provide insight and advice that keeps the Exchange, and me, at the top of our game. They come to us to help them solve problems, and there’s no feeling like being able to get them the results they need.

But it’s more than that.  Members are friends as well as colleagues. We gather socially (well, we used to) and truly enjoy each other’s company.  We’ve been through a lot together over the years, celebrating joys and accomplishments and sharing tragedies as well, both professional and personal.  I can’t imagine this unique kind of camaraderie exists in other industries.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

LH: As you might expect from my answer to the last question, I especially appreciate the opportunities for networking and connection building the Chamber offers.  I also greatly value the Chamber’s education and information-sharing initiatives.  But out of everything, I think it’s the strong ties to the Chilean government and business interests who are so critical to our success that mean the most.  The bonds CACC forges encompass all members, and that in and of itself is important enough to keep me interested in and engaged with the Chamber.

Many thanks to Lisa for participating in this Spotlight Series!