Post Archives

Spotlight Series: Joe Fox of Philaport

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Joe Fox, Marketing Manager, PhilaPort 


CACC: How did you start in Chilean produce imports? 

Joe Fox (J.F.): I actually saw a help wanted ad in the newspaper. Starting in the Fall of ’91 at Unifrutti (now Tastyfrutti), I oversaw both the East and West Coast ports as an operations supervisor. This involved managing the terminal port of discharge, fumigation, USDA inspections, quality control, distribution warehousing, and trucking distribution. During this time, I worked with a lot of the growers and agronomists in Chile and learned the technical aspects of the produce business. Back then, CSAV Lines was calling the Tioga Marine Terminal, and working with them also taught me about the ocean transport side of fruit imports.

CACC: What did your work at Hamburg Sud teach you about trade with Chile? 

J.F.: When I started there in ’97, the company was still known as Columbus Line. I worked for Victor Federici, Steve George, and John Dolan, who all taught me a lot about the container liner industry. I was there as the business was switching from breakbulk to containers. It was a time of real growth for the West Coast of South America trades. I got to meet many of the importers; people I shared space with on the docks. Working with them on logistics issues, we became close personally and professionally.

CACC: As a PhilaPort Marketing Manager, how do you effect trade between the Port and Chile?

J.F.: My experience from these previous jobs, plus my network of contacts, allow me to support Chile’s trade with Philadelphia. Here in the Marketing Department, we communicate regularly with Chilean growers, US importers, and the ocean carriers. We provide information to everyone in the supply chain, including the freight forwarders, warehouse companies and truckers. We give them market overviews, presentations, statistics, marketing materials, advice, and contacts. We recently spoke with agriculture officials from the Chilean Embassy in Washington, DC about the latest trade developments in Chile and Philadelphia. We maintain our relationships with the growers during PMA and other produce industry events. Over the years I have come to really care about Chile and its people, so it is good to help build bridges between the two cultures.

CACC: How does the CACC support your work, and the mission of PhilaPort?

J.F.: The mission of the Chamber fits well with one of our main goals at the Port:  to grow trade between Chile and Philadelphia. CACC brings all the key players together to network and knowledge share. The Chamber is an important voice of the industry as we fight protectionism and communicate with regulators. It lets us know important trends in the trade. And it holds some wonderful events so everyone can get to know each other. PhilaPort is investing a lot of money in infrastructure, and that will help grow trade with Chile, so this is an exciting time for the Chile – Philadelphia relationship. The Chamber is an essential element of that relationship.

The Delaware River is already dominant for Chilean produce imports.  Going forward, I would also like to work with the Chamber to grow our trade in forest products, seafood, metals, and more.

Thank you to Joe and PhilaPort Marketing for participating in this edition of the CACC Spotlight Series!

Spotlight Series: Terry DePietro of William H. Kopke, Jr. and KDC

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Terry DePietro
Director of Pier Operations, William H. Kopke, Jr. Inc. and KDC


CACC: How did you start your career in the fresh fruit industry? Did you always envision yourself working in this field?

Terry DePietro (T.D.): I began my career in late November 1982, when Wm. H. Kopke, Jr., Inc. affectionally known as ‘Kopke,’ promoted Paul Wigand to Director of Operations in the Corporate office headquartered in New York. I was one of three people hired to fill Paul’s huge shoes at the Ports of Philadelphia. My sister, who worked for Hillcrest Sales, a Chilean fruit importer, told me about Kopke’s opening. I applied for the position, and 38 years later, the rest is history.

So many memories, I recall a late-night working at Holt Terminal: a beloved food truck arrived, with 15 of us standing in line – I was thinking, “if someone had told me that I would one day be standing in line with a bunch of longshoremen underneath the Walt Whitman Bridge on the Jersey side at 10 p.m. I would have said they were crazy”. I never saw it coming, but I have loved every minute of it.

CACC: How does Kopke support Chilean trade?

T.D.: Up until this past October, Peter Kopke Sr. and Paul Wigand traveled together to Chile every year, meeting with the shippers and growers at the farms and packing houses to support and share valuable trade information. In addition to building strong, successful business relationships between Kopke and numerous Chilean fruit exporters, true friendships were formed over the years. With the need for more warehouse space and a considerable demand for repacking and precooling precious commodities, Kopke decided it was time to build their own warehouse.

The warehouse known as KDC (Kopke Distribution Center) is in Vineland, N.J. KDC’s president, Michael Meyers, worked closely with builders and industry leaders to ensure the Facility met all the needs of the grower’s precious commodities. Michael proudly opened the doors to the new Facility in December 2019. The building is over 165,000 thousand square feet, has 29 loading dock doors, over 6 thousand pallet positions, and four state-of-the-art precoolers, each with the capability to rapidly cool 25 pallets at a time.

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

T.D.: I love the passion for this business that I see in every person who returns for each new Chilean fruit season that makes this Industry unlike no other. I have always said when someone new comes into the fruit business, they are going to hate to it & leave asap, or they are going to love it and stay forever. The passion that everyone brings to the fruit industry is what makes it so successful. For those who choose to stay in the business, the word ‘passion’ is synonymous with the Chilean fruit industry. You not only remember the words that have been spoken in meetings, awards luncheons and dinners by the many pioneers of our industry, but you can reflect on their “hands on” approach which led the way for others. Observing Peter Kopke Sr. at the piers inspecting the fruit after fumigation in freezing weather vessel after vessel spoke volumes about his dedication to the business. To see Andy Economou at Tioga Marine Terminal on many a late night in the trenches with his team. Tom Holt Sr. for his vision and dedication to the Industry, along with many others, I thank them all for, without them, I would not have had the tremendous opportunities that have been presented to me.

CACC: Who have been the most influential people during your years on the waterfront?

T.D.: Peter Kopke Sr. for his extensive knowledge of the fruit industry.

Paul Wigand for his unwavering loyalty to our company and constant consideration for the little guy. Paul Wigand worked alongside Peter Kopke Sr. from February 1977 until his passing on October 17th, 2020.

Capt. H. Hickman Rowland Jr. president and owner of Wilmington Tug until his untimely death in 2017 for his kindness and generosity to all.

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

T.D.: The CACC is a critical organization for our industry. Having been honored with a position as a Board Member for the CACC in 2019 was incredibly special for me. Having an organization such as the CACC available to help anyone who is interested in doing business between our two countries is a continued commitment to the future of our trade together.

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

Spotlight Series: Stephen J. Galati of Mattioni, Ltd.

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Stephen J. Galati

Partner, Mattioni, Ltd. 


CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your role as an attorney at the Mattioni Ltd., law firm?  Did you always envision yourself working with the trade industry?

Stephen J. Galati (S.G.): My involvement with the fruit importation business has evolved naturally over time.  At the United States Merchant Marine Academy, I studied the maritime industry and earned a United States Coast Guard license as a Third Mate.  I then attended Tulane Law School where I studied maritime law.  I started my legal career representing importers of fruit and other perishable commodities when their product was damaged or lost during ocean transportation.  This experience with refrigerated transportation allowed me to progress to Chairmanship of the International Refrigerated Transportation Association.

My practice expanded to represent these same importers in damage claims against inland transportation companies and warehouses, and now also includes representing importers in their business needs such as ensuring compliance with FDA and USDA regulations, representing their interests in drafting and enforcing contracts, and in assisting with the presentation and defense of Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) claims.

CACC: How is your work at Mattioni connected to Chile?

S.G.: Our active involvement with representing those owning, transporting and selling perishable commodities to the United States has led to a natural connection with Chile, given its prominence in the trade of fruit into the ports of Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.

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

S.G.: I enjoy assisting clients with growing their businesses and smoothing their way to success.  This is especially true with regard to the fruit importation industry where, as a general matter, all work together collegially to support and grow the trade.

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

S.G.: On a personal level, the CACC has introduced me to people I now call my friends.  On a business level the CACC expands my ability to make contacts with those in the industry, as well as giving me access to U.S. and Chilean governmental officials.  I also benefit by taking advantage of the learning opportunities afforded including the annual Fresh Fruit Workshop, and the seminars presented by Chile: A Digital Country (Ch1l3).

Many thanks to Steve for participating in this Spotlight Series

Spotlight Series: Kevin Mack of Tastyfrutti International

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Kevin Mack
Director of Operations, Tastyfrutti International


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!

Spotlight Series: Kurt Reichert of Western Fumigation

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Kurt Reichert
Fumigation Director, Western Fumigation


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: Lisa Himber of the Maritime Exchange

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Lisa Himber

Vice President, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay


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!

Spotlight Series: Gladys Gordon

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Senior Executive Assistant, Holt Logistics


CACC: What is your connection to Chile?

Gladys Gordon (GG): First and foremost, I was born and raised in Chile. In 1990, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile. During my third year at the Ministry, I was assigned a foreign mission that involved representing my country in the local Tri-State area via the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia. When I traveled to the United States for my foreign mission, I became the first person in my immediate family to travel outside of Chile. And while foreign missions often involve temporary assignments, I ended up working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia for over 20 years—at first serving as Consular Officer before eventually becoming the Chancellor of the Consulate. Throughout my time with the Consulate, I worked closely with the local Chilean community, forging lasting relationships that continued beyond my employment with the Ministry. On occasion, I continue to work with the local Chilean community through the Consulate whenever my assistance is requested. Of course, my involvement in and support of the Chilean community extends even further through my personal, unaffiliated efforts.

CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your position at Holt Logistics?

GG: Working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia was incredibly rewarding—both professionally and personally. My work involved helping many Chilean individuals and families through challenging—and periodically dire—circumstances. It also afforded me the opportunity to interact with many extraordinarily accomplished individuals from the worlds of academia, government, politics, art, and business. I will forever cherish my time working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and—more specifically—working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia. Notwithstanding, I remember going through a period of concern and uncertainty regarding my own future, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile deliberated the possibility of permanently closing the Consulate in Philadelphia. After living almost half of my life in the United States in service of my country, I had developed a great affection for the United States. I was also married to an American and had a son that was born in the United States. And while my husband and son both adore Chile, we all wanted to continue living in the United States. Aware that I might be assigned a different foreign mission if I remained employed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I decided that it was the appropriate time to consider retiring from the Ministry while I diligently searched for work in the private sector. Interestingly, all that I had learned and achieved throughout my two decades of dedicated service to Chile and the local Chilean community didn’t seem to attract much interest. While the local business community appreciated my service and accomplishments at the Consulate, it seemed that no one could envision how my skill set would translate to the private sector. Admittedly so, this was quite a scary time for me. I started doubting my skill set, my ability to adapt, and—more importantly—myself. But let this be an important life lesson; all it takes is one person to believe in you. And for me, that one person was Leo Holt.

Last May, I celebrated my fifth year working at Holt Logistics. I primarily work in the Executive Offices at the Corporate Headquarters of Holt Logistics—often lending support to the Marketing Department. I can’t imagine working for a more amazing and conscientious company—which is not only dedicated to the welfare of their employees, but is truly dedicated to the entire community that it serves. Holt Logistics not only facilitates commerce between our local area and Chile—as well as my other parts of the world—but it also promotes and financially supports Chilean cultural events that are considerably important to the local Chilean community.

CACC: What is something you want the Greater Philadelphia Region to know about Chile? 

GG: As the people of the world struggle to navigate, confront, and adapt to this unprecedented challenge to public health, it is hard to see beyond the borders of our confinement. Nevertheless, we still maintain important connections to the rest of the world. And one of the more significant connections—particularly to our region of the country—is the connection we still have with Chile. In our region, a large percentage of the fruit we consumed during the winter and spring continued to flow from Chile—despite the logistical challenges and occasionally supply chain interruptions caused by the pandemic. Advanced IT—critical to the continued function of businesses straining to keep viable—also continued to flow from Chile. While any of us can be excused for not noticing this important connection during this extraordinarily difficult moment in our lives, Chile remains an important and active partner in our region—as well as to the rest of our country. And once we feel safe enough to travel abroad, there is no better place to start than amazing Chile. As an intrepid visitor, you can explore and learn more about Chile through its wine, gastronomy, film festivals, art, and unparalleled landscapes. These landscapes include deserts, forests, mountains, lakes, beaches, volcanoes, ice fields, and glaciers. In Chile, you can truly ski, hike, swim, and sightsee to your heart’s content!

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

GG: The CACC is one of the most active and vital Chilean Chambers in the United States. The Chamber’s ability and determination to foster and maintain a vigorous trade relationship between the Greater Philadelphia region and Chile has been integral to the steady flow of products and services needed in our area—particularly in this unprecedented time of crisis. The Chamber sponsors and organizes a wide range of events designed to promote the businesses of their members. And while I was working at the Consulate of Chile in Philadelphia, the CACC was always there to support Chile during moments of crisis—such as those caused by natural disasters and, of course, the 2010 crisis involving the trapped miners in Copiapo. The CACC also supports Chilean cultural events that are important to me and—more importantly—to the local Chilean community.

CACC: Where is your favorite place in Chile? Why?

GG: As a young teen, my favorite place to visit was Bahia Inglesa. Although I grew up in Santiago, I spent my summer vacations with my relatives who resided in northern Chile. Bahia Inglesa is located in the north, about 10 kilometers from Caldera in the Atacama region of Chile. It was quite a physical challenge traversing the mostly rocky shoreline—but it was always an adventure. And since I was particularly adventurous in my youth, I was never bothered by the occasional injury caused by the rugged terrain. During this time, my cousins and I would explore Bahia Inglesa, as well as many other interesting and remote places in the surrounding area. I vividly remember the nights in the north. Parts of the north were so remote and dark during the evenings that you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face! But the sky was utterly spectacular. It felt like you could pluck the stars out of the sky like wildflowers in an endless meadow. But the most awe-inspiring sight in the night sky was the hazy-white band of the Milky Way, which can only be viewed by the naked eye in the total absence of the light pollution. And while I love all the amazing regions of Chile, northern Chile will always produce a heightened sense of nostalgia within me.

Muchas Gracias to Gladys for sharing her inspiring story!

Spotlight Series: Benjamin Leavenworth

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020


Benjamin Leavenworth, Honorary Consul of Chile

Cheers for Chile! Celebrating Chile's 202nd Anniversary of Independence

CACC: How did your experiences lead you to become the Honorary Consul of Chile? What is your connection with the country of Chile?

Benjamin Leavenworth (BL): The first time I went to Chile was in 1991 to spend 3 months on a climbing and kayaking expedition around the Northern Patagonian Icefields. I fell in love with the splendor of the country and a few years later came back to start a wine company with a college classmate called Vina Cono Sur. This was an amazing experience as it was the early 90’s, when Chile was re-emerging on the global scene. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only start a major exporting company from scratch, but also to help shape in some small way a country’s future. Cono Sur was a success and today is a million-case winery exporting all around the world. I ended up staying in Chile for almost ten years and then returned to Philadelphia where I founded an international business consulting company. I considered Chile to be my adoptive country and naturally stepped in to support it whenever possible. Some of my efforts were noticed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 2005, I was appointed Honorary Consul of Chile by President Ricardo Lagos. It was and continues to be an unusual appointment as Chile maintained a full Consulate General in Philadelphia headed up at the time by Consul General Jose Luis Morales Molyneux, who became a dear friend to me along with his wife Cecilia and their family. In 2006, when Consul General Morales returned to Chile, I was asked by the Foreign Minister to assume the responsibilities for the consulate, for which I have been responsible for the past fifteen years.

CACC: What does your role as Consul here in Philadelphia encompass?

BL: My role as Consul is principally focused on fostering economic, commercial, political and cultural ties and representing Chile in my jurisdiction, which include the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. While I operate with a significant level of independence, I also work closely with the Ambassador of Chile in Washington D.C. and the Consul General in New York in developing initiatives and implementing strategies as directed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the consulate offers the full range of consular services, for which I have a dedicated consular official, occasionally there are times that I get involved in these matters too.

CACC: What is your favorite part of your job as Consul?

BL: While there is nothing more satisfying than helping a person in need, which is a part of the role I play as Consul, I have to admit that the favorite part of my job is connecting the two countries that I love so dearly. I have had the honor of personally arranging the visits of President Bachelet, and former President Pinera (at the time, now current President of Chile) to the Greater Philadelphia Region, as well as official visits to Chile by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware on two occasions and Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania where they were received by President Pinera and President Bachelet. It has also been a pleasure to lead numerous regional delegations to and from Chile and working closely with members of the Chilean Senate and Congress who are big fans of our region. This is quite understandable since over half a million jobs in Chile are tied to commerce stemming from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Together, we have implemented a robust sub-national strategy connecting stakeholders in both countries such as governors in both countries, growers, businesses and universities. This is a great deal of work and an immense amount of stress, but it is also greatly rewarding.

CACC: What is something you want the Greater Philadelphia Region to know about Chile?

BL: I want our friends to know that despite all of the challenges that the world and Chile is facing, that it still remains a country that is firmly committed to partnership with our region. Our mutual trade relationship supports thousands of jobs on both sides and feeds millions of people. There is so much more to do, and as Chile reinvents itself for the 2.0 economy of the future, it will be a place for opportunity and further commercial development be it in agricultural and food technologies, IT, or investment. We are aligned in our belief in transparent institutions, rule of law, democracy, and an open economy.

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

BL: The CACC is truly the most professional and connected Chilean and American trade platform in the United States. I greatly appreciate the role that our members, the board of directors, and Executive Director play in fostering and supporting the valuable trading relationship between our two countries. As Consul, I am very grateful for the support that the CACC has afforded me over the many years, be it in times of an emergency like the generous response to our devastating earthquake in 2010 or the extraordinary support for our Presidential and Congressional visits. Without the Chamber’s support, it would have been hard to pull off the “Viva Chile” celebration in 2008, a week-long citywide event with 17 activities and over 17,000 attendees. In my opinion, this is a perfect partnership that is underpinned by a deep friendship and desire to make lives better in our respective countries.

Many thanks to Benjamin for sharing his story and being our first feature!

Spotlight Series: Martin Lewit

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020


Martin Lewit
Senior Vice President, Nisum International


CACC: What is your connection to Chile?

Martin Lewit (ML): I am originally from Argentina, but I’ve lived in Chile for 10 years in total, most recently the last 7+ years leading Nisum companies. In 2013, I returned to Chile after 7+ years of living in Boston, where I completed my MBA at Babson College and worked at Fidelity Investments.

Furthermore, I’m emotionally connected to Chile because my parents, my sister and her family also live in Santiago and most importantly both my kids, Oliver and Sofia, were born in Chile. I’ve truly enjoyed my last 8 years living in Santiago alongside so many Chilean and foreign friends.

CACC: What experiences led you to become SVP at Nisum International? 

ML: It has been an interesting journey, with a few twists and plenty of international moves. I’m passionate about tech companies and entrepreneurial at heart, which has been key when taking on new challenges. There are three areas that have led the way to me getting here.

First is education. I developed an entrepreneurial mindset early on in my college education. I graduated with a dual degree in Business and Accounting in Buenos Aires, Argentina and decided a few years later to pursue an MBA from Babson College, a leader in entrepreneurial teaching. All throughout I focused on what drives companies, and especially their people, to grow and innovate.

Then, there is my professional journey. While I’ve worked quite a bit in Tech and Finance, I have had opportunities to live and work in many countries, learn about several industries, participate in various functional areas and assume managerial responsibility as I grew in my career. The journey helped me become a generalist and lead teams in regions as far apart as Chile and India, Pakistan and US.

Finally, I think a key aspect has been finding a balanced skillset, allowing me to take on complex business challenges with innovative solutions, developing and empowering those who I work with and generating connections to create new and exciting opportunities.

CACC: How did you become involved with Chile: a Digital Country (Ch1l3)? 

ML: Ch1l3 is an incredible Private-Public partnership that supports the expansion of Chile’s Digital Services industry to new markets. It fosters collaboration between members and enhances our capability to develop new and innovative solutions. I’m passionate about the project and have worked on it since its design and inception.

Actually, I collaborated with the original project, the first technology sector brand launch in Chile back in 2008, then called ChileIT, and worked with the team for a few years while living in the US. This initiative helped us develop a presence in the US market and was an incredible experience for me, although it eventually was discontinued.

In 2013 when I came back to Chile, I worked alongside Chiletec and ProChile to relaunch the program, which eventually became Ch1l3.

CACC: How do you see the Ch1l3 brand evolving in the future?

ML: We are facing a new and very uncertain environment that is also quickly changing. One thing we’ve seen is the faster adoption of digital technologies. Also, the new remote and distributed workforce across many industries has disrupted the way we work and opened new opportunities to seamlessly incorporate global talent into our digital challenges. Our brand becomes even more relevant today and I believe can add new value to many companies as they navigate through these complex and changing times.

CACC: What do you think sets Philly apart from other cities in the U.S.?

ML: Interestingly when I started working with Ch1l3’s plan for the US, I knew we wanted to have Philly be one of the key launch pads for the Brand. There is a clear and close relationship between Chile and Philadelphia that goes back many years based on strong commercial and cultural ties. The presence of the CACC has been key because it is a terrific partner in growing and developing relationships.

I feel Santiago, Chile’s capital city, and Philadelphia are similar in many aspects, including their resilience, their people’s love for their city, and proving that they are secret gems close to a bigger metropolis. Philly has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and is a city with the ability to reinvent itself while continuously growing and expanding.

Also, I feel a personal bond with the city because when we started our expansion to the US over eight years ago, our first customer was from Philly.

CACC: What is something you want the CACC Network to know about Chile?

ML: That Chile is an incredible and committed partner, and it is a country that from a business standpoint is very aligned with the US. I actually have heard from many of our business partners that Santiago many times feels like another US city.

We had some issues last year, as many countries have around the globe, including unrest and protest. However, as Chile prepares to reinvent itself for the future, I’m confident we will overcome these issues and will become a better society and a stronger community. My message would be to continue being confident in Chile, one of the best countries to do business in the world.

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

ML: The CACC is a committed and trustworthy partner, which is incredibly valuable. Beyond it’s network and professionalism, the commitment and openness from the overall CACC team has helped us think about how to best engage with the broader Philly community.

Muchas gracias to Martin for sharing his story with us!

2019 Annual Fresh Fruit Workshop Recap

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

2019 Annual Fresh Fruit Workshop
December 13, 2019
Independence Seaport Museum

 Colleagues, port representatives, and government officials formed a panel to review and address the trade, technical, legal, regulatory and business issues affecting the import of Chilean fresh fruit into the Delaware Valley Region.

This year, the Annual Fresh Fruit Workshop featured the same relevant discussion, but with a different backdrop. The 2019 event was moved to the Independence Seaport Museum, an organization dedicated to deepening “the understanding, appreciation, and experience of the Philadelphia region’s waterways through history, science, and art.” Roughly 60 attendees came to the workshop to hear from a panel featuring Ed Fitzgerald, GEODIS USA, Inc.; Lisa Himber, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay; Evan Moss, J&K Fresh East; Frank Mowatt, Philadelphia USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Inspection Office; Elliot Ortiz, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Kurt Reichert, Western Fumigation; William Spence, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service-Plant Protection Quarantine; and Russell Vandermark, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. John Ercolani, J&K Fresh East, served as Moderator.

At the event, a wide variety of topics were discussed, with each panelist addressing a different subject, speaking on behalf of their organizations. Himber mentioned how the Maritime Exchange is looking to expand the current wood treatment program, while Fitzgerald explained the various types of entry documentation. Moss reviewed regulations relating to Chile’s main exports to our region, fresh grapes and blueberries, Reichert told of the regulatory issues with methyl bromide.

 Representing government agencies, the second set of panelists predicted that the upcoming Chilean fruit season will be business as usual. Ortiz stated that Philadelphia is the busiest port for Customs and Border Protection in the country. Mowatt said his office was expecting no major changes, but inspection fees have gone up 10% since the first of October, Spence stated that he did not foresee any changes either, and Vandermark said that the sampling of Chilean fruit is expected to be the same as last year.

The CACC would like to thank the Independence Seaport Museum for hosting the event, the panelists for sharing their expertise, and the attendees. We would also like to thank the members who sponsored the 2019 Annual Fresh Fruit Workshop: GEODIS USA, Inc.; Holt Logistics; J&K Fresh East; and Western Fumigation.