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TURNER: Even hurricanes couldn't keep Christi and Mike Alise down

Talking to Christi and Mike Alise, president and vice president of Gulf Coast Produce, one is led to marvel at just what determination, teamwork, and dedication can achieve.

The Alises have been in the produce business for most of their adult lives, having grown up in Louisiana and then moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1995 to take on a business challenge with a company that was not doing well at the time. Through their efforts, the company became a solid, profitable business, with strong growth over the next 10 years.

Then came 2005, and the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.

“It was devastating,” said Christi. “It basically closed down our business.”

Among other things, their building was one of the few that was relatively undamaged, with the result that FEMA took it over as their headquarters.

Christi and Mike Alise are president and vice president of Gulf Coast Produce.

Christi and Mike Alise are president and vice president of Gulf Coast Produce.

Christi and Mike wound up working in a business in the Memphis area for a while, but not to be denied, they returned to the Gulf Coast and entered into a partnership with another company and began to rebuild their business base as the Katrina recovery gathered momentum.

Once again, they ran into obstacles with the partnership, and finally wound up taking the business over once again and starting yet another recovery effort.

“We’ve proven to ourselves that we are an untouchable team,” said Mike. “We just don’t give up, and we have an iron will to succeed.”

That “iron will” has carried them once again to a position of strength in the produce distribution business. They cover a good portion of southern Mississippi, and have 13 colorfully painted delivery trucks supplying markets in the region from Pensacola to Hattiesburg to the Louisiana border. The company is once more strong and profitable, with strong growth.

However, that’s not the end-all for the Alises. There are some plans in the works to develop an open air market in the area, and their goal is to grow their operations to $30 million in sales.

They also believe the Gulf Coast has a bright future.

“For one thing,” Mike pointed out, “our port can handle the bigger vessels, and other ports are just about at max. To us, that means things will only go in one direction — up.”

As that growth materializes, one thing seems certain: Christi and Mike Alise will be along for the ride.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.


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