The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 14, 2012

Produce expert grows own business

MUNDYS CORNER — More than half of Americans dream of owning a business, but fewer than one in

100 actually will realize that dream.

After 30 years of working for someone else, Thomas Adams decided his time had come.

“I wanted to go on my own and be my own boss,” Adams said.

Adams spent three decades in the produce business. He knew fresh fruits and vegetables as well as, if not better than, most in the industry. What he didn’t know was the fine art of operating a business.

For that, he turned to Johnstown Area Regional Industries (JARI).

“JARI provided me with the fundamental knowledge I needed to get started. I got a lot of ideas and learned some of the business aspects that I didn’t know,” he said.

Folks who travel Route 271 north of Johnstown through Mundys Corner may be familiar with Adams Country Market. The 1,800-square-foot building sits near the Route 22 overpass. What they may not know is that many schoolchildren find Adams’ produce on their lunch trays every day at school, and many of the meals at local restaurants include the market’s choice fruits and vegetables.

“When I first opened, I was just going to open up a little fruit market,” Adams said  with a chuckle. “I had not planned on doing any deliveries, but before long I had a bunch of customers that wanted me to deliver to them, so it just exploded from there. Now we probably have 150 different accounts that we deliver to.”

Started in 2007, Adams Country Market has grown from one employee to 10 and serves customers in Cambria, Somerset, Blair, Centre and Jefferson counties. In addition to wholesale and retail sales of produce, the market added fresh flowers to its list of products.

“We operate year-round. We have Christmas trees and wreaths and hanging baskets for Mother’s Day and flats of flowers for planting. This has been a colossal growth area for us,” Adams said.

The market is in the process of building a larger greenhouse.

“The old greenhouse was 50 (feet) by 16 (feet). The new one is 50 (feet) by 24 (feet). That’s another 400 square feet, and it’s twice as high, so it will hold five to six times more product.”

In this day of high-speed Internet, social networking and mobile apps, Adams relies solely on word of mouth from satisfied customers to market his business, and he likes it that way.

Asked about the prospect of developing a website, Adams said that’s not something that interests him.

His approach to keeping and adding customers is more traditional: Give people what they want and they’ll be back for more.

* Fourth part of a weeklong series highlighting local entrepreneurs.

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