ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Produce Market, dubbed Produce Row, has a new market manager this year.

Pat Kelley, owner of P.G. Kelley & Co., a construction and property management firm, succeeded Clarence Hughes in the position. Kelley has worked with Produce Row for 15 years on construction projects and as a member of the board.

“When Clarence left, they asked me to step in,” Kelley said in early July. “I just went to my first market managers meeting in Dallas.”

One of Kelley’s first projects involves working with the city on beautification of the buildings and the area. Earlier this year, the driveway and parking lot were repaved for the first time since the market was built, and areas of the roof are being repaired.

“We’re looking for grants for cameras and fences,” Kelley said. “Food security is always an issue, and we’re going to do more and more.”

“When they built this it was a terminal market. Everything was built for trains,” said Neno Pupillo, co-owner of H.R. Bushman & Son Corp.

“Times were changing as they were building the market. Everybody was beginning to use trucks.”

At one time, there were about 60 companies in the 90-plus stalls on the market. Now there are 22.

Some of the companies on the market want to expand, and Kelley is working on making that possible.

“We have room,” Kelley said. “We bought some property from the railroad. United (Fruit and Produce Co.) owns some property. Others are looking to move and build on.”

The market is important because customers like to view produce before they purchase it, said Jeff Moore, vice president of sales for Springfield, Ill.-based Tom Lange Co.’s Midwest division.

“I can’t think of a more competitive market from a customer’s perspective or a company’s,” Moore said.

Tom Lange was founded on the terminal in 1960. The company considered moving its Midwest office off the market because of growth, but chose to stay.

“We’ve found it to be a huge advantage,” Moore said. “We see the produce we’re selling. We see the quality, and we can stay on top of the markets.