In what might come as a surprise to many working in the produce industry in New England, Anthony Sharrino, president of Eaton & Eustis Co., revealed to The Produce News that the company will have new owners in 2020.
“We’re sold,” he said. “It’s been 50 years of getting up at 2 a.m., and I’ve had it.”
The firm was established in 1880 and Sharrino’s grandparents began working for Eaton & Eustis after coming over from Sicily in 1906, buying the company in 1910. Sharrino has been a part of it for more than five decades, contributing greatly to its growth as it found success on the New England Produce Center in Chelsea, MA.
“I’m the third generation and I’ve enjoyed the business and enjoyed my career, but it’s time to look in the mirror and relax a little bit,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed everybody I’ve ever met in the business, I’ve learned a lot and the relationships I made — both from buying and selling — have been very meaningful.”
Although he’s going to let the new ownership announce who they are when they feel it’s appropriate, Sharrino does share that they will be taking over in early 2020 and he will stay on in a transitional capacity, working two days a week.
“I plan to stay active for a little bit, but I want some time to be inactive,” he said. “It’s time to enjoy my life.”
Eaton & Eustis Co., had a strong 2019, and Sharrino is pleased to be going out on what he calls “a very high note.”
While he will stop working one day, he doesn’t have any plans for ever leaving the New England area and retiring to someplace warm.
“I enjoy New England so why would I leave,” he said. “The fussiest buyers in the produce industry are right here in Boston, but that’s what makes it great.”
The company has long been known for its major onion program, finding success with sweet onions from all areas of the country as well as offshore. It also handles a full line of garlic products — fresh and peeled — sourced from California. Other products it deals in include coconuts, fresh ginger and a full line of dried fruits and nuts in the shell.
Eaton & Eustis Co.’s customer base is comprised of about half retail stores and half foodservice operators. Included in its retail business are the smaller, independently owned stores.
“We have found success by caring about our customers,” Sharrino said. “Maintaining strong and loyal relationships in this business is key to doing great business and we have always prided ourselves on the mutual dedication that has been formed with our partners in this industry throughout our history.”