The year 2019 has been a big one for John Vena Inc. The specialty produce wholesaler, distributor and importer has been celebrating its 100th anniversary with a series of launches and events to commemorate its heritage and usher in the next era of excellence in produce distribution.
Wine made by John Vena to commemorate the monumental occasion.
Dave Carroll, who handles sales and buying at JVI, with Joe Menei, JVI ripening manager.
Roman Petrishin, a selector at JVI, and Victoria Ponomarenko, a friend of JVI.
Dan Vena, a member of the Vena family’s fourth generation, gives welcoming remarks.
Dave Casto, inventory manager at JVI; Manny Herrero-Torres, sales support associate at JVI; Regina Casto, a friend of JVI; Dustin Allen, supervisor at JVI; and Andrea Straub and Rasheed Matthews, friends of JVI.
Ron Brundage, receiver at JVI, and Kim Brundage, a friend of JVI.
Martina Killian, a friend of JVI; Joe Killian, business development at JVI; Ryan Barone, a friend of JVI; and Kelsey Rose, sales team leader at JVI.
A special cake to commemorate JVI’s 100th anniversary.
John Vena III with a commemorative plaque presented to him by the JVI staff.
Photos from the photo booth at the party.
A beet appetizer with micro star flowers.
A display of headlines from the year 1919, when JVI was founded.
Fun signage about JVI’s history.
Andrea Franchetto, sales and marketing intern at JVI; Rasheed Matthews, a friend of JVI; and Manny Herrero-Torres, sales support associate at JVI.
Thomas Romano, a friend of JVI, and Cheryl Grady, accounting clerk at JVI.
Earlier this year, the company launched a refreshed brand with a new logo, an official nickname (JVI), and a reinvigorated mission statement. The newly articulated mission honors the legacy of the Vena family while embracing the fresh energy their team brings to the table: working together to make the business of food more interesting, more exciting and more fun.
On Saturday, Nov. 4 more than 120 JVI team members, friends and family gathered at The Olde Bar in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia to officially mark the occasion.
“So why are we here, in this place?” President John Vena III, grandson of the company’s founder, asked during his opening remarks at the event. “Many know that this used to be a famous seafood restaurant, Old Original Bookbinders, which had roots back to 1898. Had you walked out the front door in 1919 you would have been right where John Vena Inc. began at 151 Dock Street. That was the heart of the Philadelphia produce world. Hallowed ground for old-time produce people like me.”
The ties between the Vena family and the location of the party go even deeper. As Vena revealed, “My grandfather, our founder, owned the building on the corner of 2nd and Walnut, where some of you stand now. It was a gun shop in the early days of Philadelphia, but he later sold it to the family that owned Bookbinders next door. And now it has been transformed into this venue.”
On the menu were a selection of hors d'oeuvres, salads and gourmet sliders that featured ingredients from many of JVI’s partner suppliers, including WestPak Avocado, Purple Pride, Babé Farms, B&W Growers and Fresh Origins. Bar offerings included a refreshing blood orange spritzer with fresh turmeric and mint.
Vena addressed the crowd with assurances that despite a rich, 100-year history, he is looking in one direction only — ahead.
“We’re wholesalers, repackers, importers, service providers — what can we do to put all that experience and knowledge together to continue to make the business of food even more interesting, more exciting, and more fun?” he asked. “That’s the question I ask myself — and we must ask ourselves — every day as we begin our next 100 years.”