William H. Kopke, Jr. opened his doors for business in New York City near the Washington Street Market (in what is now the Tribeca area). William H. Kopke Jr. emigrated from Germany at the age of 27, and rented a desk for two days a week. He pursued his American dream doing what he knew best: importing and exporting the finest fruits and produce.
WWIIs escalation in Europe halted the large imports of chestnuts from Italy, though they resumed strongly again after the war was over.
During WWII, imports were more limited, but William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. forged strong relationships with the top suppliers in South America to ensure that Americans were able to have access to fresh products.
Peter Kopke, Sr., Williams only son, joined William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. as a full-time employee, having worked at the New York fruit auctions for his father since he was a boy.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. began large distribution of Chilean grapes throughout North America. This business allowed for consumers to purchase grapes during the winter months.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. arranged for entire Australian Packham and Bosc pear import to USA since 1950 with the lifting of the embargo.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx, near the Hunts Point Market, obtaining large warehouses with in house fumigation for Chilean grapes, which was the only privately owned facility for that purpose.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. began using port of Philadelphia instead of New York City as its biggest hub for shipments of fruit. The company also began importing produce via airplane in the late 70s, with this practice becoming even more prevalent in the 80s.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. left auction and initiated total private selling of Chilean fruits.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. began importing directly into Los Angeles for west coast distribution.
The William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. corporate office relocated to Lake Success, New York.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. arranged to import the first Argentine pears since the early 1970s.
South Africas apartheid finally came to an end, and William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. quickly established relationships with fine fruit and produce exporters in that country, allowing for even more exotic products to be imported to the US market.
Peters first son, Peter Kopke, Jr., became the first of the third generation of Kopkes to join the company. His brothers would soon follow, with William Kopke joining in 2002 and David Kopke in 2005.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. was honored with the first Friend of Chile award, which was presented by current Governor Edward G Rendell of Pennsylvania.
William H. Kopke Jr., Inc. signs license agreement with Disney Garden for grape and cherry distribution in the United States with a singular focus on increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables among children.*
*License expired as of 12/31/2010.
Kopke signs license agreement with Disney Garden for grape and cherry distribution in Canada.*
*License expired as of
Peter Kopke Sr. received the Chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award for his five decades of work pioneering the Chilean grape business in the United States. The award was in recognition of his profound contributions to the Chilean and American fruit trade, his vision, consummate diplomatic skills and the pivotal position he created for the Ports of the Delaware River.Play Video: Presenter, Barbara Hunter Play Video: Peter Kopke, Sr.