Two industry veterans have opened Marathon Fruit Distributors LLC, a produce importing and distribution operation focusing on Chilean and Southern Hemisphere fruit.

New Philadelphia importing operation opens
New Philadelphia importing operation opens

Skea

Partner and vice president of sales Phil Reilly has 35 years in the industry, most recently with Cincinnati-based Chiquita Fresh NA, a division of Chiquita Brands International Inc. David Skea, who has 25 years experience, opened Philadelphia-based Marathon Fruit in early November.

Skea, who also worked 18 years for Chiquita, said the two wanted to create a niche-type importing company that could serve the role many small- and medium-sized importers held before consolidation swallowed them during the 1990s.

The company focuses on importing grapes, stone fruit and tree fruit from Chile, Peru and Brazil and next year plans to set sights on Mexican product, said Skea.

New Philadelphia importing operation opens

Reilly

“Sometimes you go into the corner café for a good cup of coffee and sometimes to the chain store because they make 5-pounds of coffee,” Reilly said. “We want to be the corner C-store where you know you will get good quality at a fair price without any pressure from upper management to increase volume in areas that we’re not prepared for.”


Skea said that independence should help its customers.

“We are not being burdened in buying any one commodity, commodity group, exporter or source country,” he said. “This allows us to be nimble and provides a balanced program that can satisfy retail and grower customers. The key is to provide fair returns for both.”

Another partner, Jose “Pepe” Gerstle, also formerly with Chiquita, serves as the face of Marathon in South America through Exporter Sapel Limitada. Alberto Abaseal handles sourcing and export operations.

Reilly also worked with Dole and Philadelphia-based Chilean importer Winter Fruit. Skea has worked for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla. and MBG Marketing, Grand Junction, Mich.

The operation also plans to offer blueberries, pomegranates and loquats, Skea said.