Alpha One: From Ship Chandler to Contracts with Major Cruise Lines

Alpha One Truck

Alpha One started as a ship chandler business in 2012. Since then, the family-owned company run by brothers Theo and James Vrettos, has transitioned to a provisioning and contract-based business.

Theo Vrettos, chief operating officer, said that the shift happened when the pandemic started, which made provisioning a challenge for cruise lines, which is when Alpha One stepped in.

“We provided anything and everything to the cruise lines. We’re very good at finding urgent things,” said Vrettos.

“From there, we became known as the emergency guys, the chandler guys.”

Alpha One has expanded its operations and now has three locations: New York, Miami and Piraeus, and has supplied cruise lines with everything from flu shots to helicopter fuel. Selling oysters and pillows on the same day is nothing unusual, according to Vrettos.

“We started our operations in New York and I decided to come down to Miami and do our ship chandler business there working with port agents and the vessels directly.”

Vrettos said that it went well until 2019 and 2020 when the company decided to go back to New York and put the business in hibernation.

Following the pandemic, they were contacted by Norwegian Cruise Line for food provisioning.

“Following Covid, Norwegian Cruise Line started to ask us for food because their supply chain was so broken across the world. There was not enough food in this country, everything was short,” said Vrettos.

He explained that the shortage was more evident on cruise ships than in any other industry.

“They’re not ordering one case of mayonnaise or two cases like a restaurant would order, they’re ordering two pallets worth.”

In November of 2021, the company returned to Miami, focusing on emergency provisions only for about nine months.

“Now, we’re offering contracts on sausages, we have sausages that we distribute from a very good source in New York, and all the cruise lines really like their brand. We’re doing nuts and nut products like almond flour, walnut bits and pieces. So we’re slowly transitioning the business to become a vendor of contract-based items as well as servicing the emergency market,” said Vrettos.

In addition to the ship chandler business, since day one, Alpha One has been offering technical purchasing from their location in Greece.

Vrettos said that the company owes its success to being able to meet tight deadlines and helping cruise lines with emergency demands.

“When nobody else could deliver, we were the guys that delivered and that’s what got us to this place that we’re now.”

In fact, the company’s slogan sums it up: “The impossible, we do right away, miracles take a little longer.”

So far, Alpha One’s biggest customers in the cruise industry are Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises Line and all of the Holland America Group. Other customers include port agents, Intercruises and SMS.

In terms of the future, Theo said that Alpha One is planning an even bigger expansion and will be relocating again in 2023 in need of a larger warehouse.

“We’re moving again. Right now, we’ve been working through rented freezer trailers and refrigerator trailers that we’ve been using. We also work with cold storage because we need to store frozen items so we do have a cold storage partner at the moment. However, our new facility that we’re going into is going to be top of the line. We’re going to have a brand new freezer, a brand new refrigerator, loading docks, more office space, more everything.”

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