Smith Business to Watch For: Delta Produce
Christos Marafatsos ‘09 was still in college when he decided he’d like to
work for himself, so he and longtime friend Kosta Dionisopoulos created Delta
Produce in the fall of 2009 and have been working for themselves ever since.
With Marafatsos’ background in international business and the Dionisopoulos’
family’s history in the fresh produce business, the two friends knew there was
room in the market for another fresh food distributor in the area. After eight
months of rigorous market research and a careful study of their competitors,
Marafatsos and Dionisopoulos bought their first truck and started Delta Produce
in September 2009.
Delta Produce distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to restaurants,
government agencies, country clubs, franchises, hotels and food service
establishments in Maryland, Washington, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The company
has seen a lot of early success and has been expanding even in the recession.
“We’ve nearly doubled our sales in the past year and we currently employ 18
people. We’ve added warehouse space in D.C. And we’ve broken into the government
sector, landing contracts to serve cafeterias at the White House and 20 other
government agencies. We’ve upped our operations to close to 24-hours, and we’ve
expanded our geographic reach,” Marafatsos says.
Marafatsos’ time at Smith is helping the duo get focused on the business
development side of Delta Produce. While an undergraduate, Marafatsos made sure
to take advantage of the support system the Smith School has to offer – and for
the budding entrepreneur in Marafatsos that meant working closely with the
Dingman Center team.
“One of the things I liked best about Smith was the personal attention from the
professors and the staff. You can tell that they actually want to help you,” he
said. “I was introduced to Alla Corey and Asher Epstein at Dingman Center and I
found them to be so helpful to me as a young entrepreneur. They both helped me
The Dingman Center team helped Marafatsos and Dionisopoulos learn about raising
money for the company, introduced them to people they knew would be helpful in
the success of Delta Produce, and introduced them to investors.
“They are really there in every way, shape and form for the students at the
University of Maryland and I didn’t realize that until I approached them – I
wish I had approached them sooner,” Marafatsos said.
Smith students also proved to be a great motivator for Marafatsos in starting
Delta Produce: “The level of intelligence and motivation of your peers motivates
you even more and the students at Smith are incredibly talented and motivated.
As business students and as entrepreneurs, our instinct is to try to be better
and feed off the motivation of others. We always want to be the best, so it was
great to be surrounded by other students with similar drive and work ethic.”