Basile Kanaris

Basile Kanaris

National Sales Manager, Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President

I first met Andreas Economou in 1983, at the age of 28, while attending a function at the house of my mathematics professor and tennis partner in Tampa, Florida. At the time, I was enrolled in a graduate program studying chemistry at the University of South Florida. Having been both born and raised in Athens, Andy and I shared similar backgrounds and several things in common; instantly we became very good friends. In 1984, Andy relocated to Philadelphia, PA, where he established Unifrutti of America, Inc., now Tastyfrutti International, Inc., an import and marketing company distributing fresh deciduous fruit throughout North America.

During my tenure at the university, I began to question my dedication to the field of chemistry and was undecided on what career to pursue. Coincidentally, and as fate would have it, Andy phoned me in Florida and offered me a position at Unifrutti. Although the job had nothing to do with my field of studies, I accepted his tender and moved to Philadelphia.

Like all employees engaged by Andy, I instantly found myself standing on the “bottom rung of the ladder,” working long hours loading trucks on the piers of Philadelphia. In fact, at night when I returned home, I would find my lunch sandwich uneaten and crumpled in my pocket. One calculated step at a time, I moved to quality control, cold storage management, then transportation, and finally to sales. Today, 31 years later, I am the National Sales Manager, Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President of our company.

I will never forget what happened during my first week of employment at Tastyfrutti. I was instructed to drive our refrigerated truck to JFK Airport in New York to pick up an air shipment of fresh cherries. While driving along, the top of the truck accidentally hit an escarpment underneath the bridge. The refrigeration unit on the roof caught fire and peeled off the entire top of the truck like an open sardine can. Those of you familiar with Mr. Economou’s composed and benevolent personality can imagine how I felt—I thought I was going to get fired!

Throughout my career, I have enjoyed the unique opportunity to visit many places and meet a diverse and interesting group of people. Over the years, I have forged several excellent business relationships and numerous close friendships. However, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned during my career is that you’re only as good as your word. Dedication, loyalty and honesty are the principles by which I abide.