A south Florida tropicals and specialty fruit grower-shipper has hired a retail and wholesale produce veteran to lead its sales efforts, is planting new items and plans to expand to offshore offerings.


Homestead tropicals grower-shipper adds produce sales veteran


Dennis Sever plans to begin working as sales manager for the Homestead, Fla.-based Unity Groves Corp. on May 25.


A 2008 Iraq war veteran, Sever previously worked for S. Katzman Produce Inc., Bronx, N.Y., Global Tropical Fresh Fruit Corp., Brooklyn, N.Y., broker Maria Victoria, Smithtown, N.Y., and Reliable of Miami Inc.

In 1986, he began his produce career as a store worker and advanced to buyer and manager in several New York greengrocer operations.

Sever said he wants to help the Unity Groves, an avocado, longan, lychee and mango grower-shipper expand its specialties in south Florida. This season, the company planted small fields of dragon fruit and guava trees and passion fruit vines.


Homestead tropicals grower-shipper adds produce sales veteran

Sever


“I know what people want and what growers can sell,” he said. “(Growers) haven’t had the opportunity to sell it yet as no one has introduced the product to them. I am always looking at new ideas and opportunities, which I never had with other companies. They wanted to stick with the standards and didn’t want to invest in new potential ideas.”

Sever said Unity president and owner Louie Carricarte shares his same optimism.

“He’s (Sever) real imaginative and has a lot of good ideas,” Carricarte said. “He has strong connections in New York and has been in the trucking business, so he knows where everything goes.”

Unity, which also grows and ships papayas, Thai bananas and banana leaves, began packing fruit in 2008. Unity operates from May through January, but Carricarte is considering import Mexican limes and papayas to continue late winter and early spring sales.

Carricarte said retail and wholesale customer response has been strong and that the operation needs more products to satisfy orders. He said he wants to grow more items so he can have more control over production.

Carricarte said sales during the last three years have been exponential and that Unity plans to add another sales position this summer.

Sever succeeds Rick Cohen, the company’s former sales manager who left the company in January for other opportunities, Carricarte said.

Unity has also doubled its avocado acreage from 100 acres to 200 acres.

Unity also hired Jamie Allen as operations manager. Carricarte said Unity plans to have Allen apply the technology and efficiency expertise she gained from working more than 25 years with Macy’s/Bloomingdales as a divisional manager.

Susan Kruse has also joined to handle human resources, workers
compensation and liability insurance issues. Kruse previously worked for
more than 20 years in a similar capacity at Brooks Tropicals Inc.,
Homestead.

Jenny Penton, Carricarte’s sister, is office manager. She previously ran accounting for a health insurance
business Carricarte formerly operated.