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Amigo de Chile – Aramark & Executive Martin Welch

Aramark & Rescue of 33 Chilean Miners

J.Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia –  “It was America’s busiest port, with wharves stretching nearly two miles along the (Delaware) river.  The top gallants of huge merchantmen loomed over the busy Water Street and Front Street. Cutter, shad boats, and two-masted shallops tied up, moved in and out in company with the great, flat-bottomed Durham boats built to carry pig iron from the Durham Works upstream. Shipbuilding was a thriving industry; seagoing trade, the city’s lifeblood.”

This portrait of Philadelphia’s halcyon youth, the late 18th century, by historian David McCullough, is a vision that Ricardo Maldonado, CEO of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce and Lt. Gov.-elect Mike Stack, believe can happen again.

In opening ceremonies from the Hyatt at the Bellevue, Wednesday,  Mr. Rob Wonderling, President of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, described the evolving trade relations between the nation of Chile and the city of Philadelphia as not merely “born” out of  commerce, “but out of friendship.”

Introducing the recipient of the 17th Annual “Friend of Chile” Award, Martin Welch, Chief Operating Officer of Emerging Markets for Aramark, Inc., Lt. Governor-elect Mike Stack lauded the 270,000-plus employee Aramark as “one of the worlds most admired companies” and according to the Ethisphere Institute it is “one of the world’s most ethical companies.”

With a workforce of more than 20,000 in Chile – providing food services and facilities management for healthcare and educational institutions- Mr. Stack said the company has clearly ‘demonstrated its commitment” to Chile. He added that as Lt Governor for the incoming Wolf administration, he would pursue improved trade relations throughout Latin America:  “We can build the Aramark brand, we can build the Pennsylvania brand and we can build the Chile brand.”

The incoming Lt. Governor told El Hispano he was especially interested in boosting Philadelphia’s exports, saying “Too often we are unloading products from other countries and we then send the ships away empty. So we want to reload those ships and send (Pennsylvania) products around the world. And that’s going to mean jobs. I think we can do it.”

Mr. Stack, a former recipient of the “Friend of Chile” award then added, laughing, “Si Podemos hacerlo. Todos juntos.”

In accepting the “Friend of Chile,” award Mr. Welch referred to the “innovating” ways Aramark delivers the foods and and facilities management services to thousands of nurses, doctors, students and educators “every day.” The COO of Emerging Markets, however, expressed particular pride in serving more than 60 percent of Chile’s commercial mining: meals for more than 42,000 miners.

In recalling the 2010 collapse of the San Jose copper mine in Copiapo, Chile and the miraculous rescue of all 33 miners on the 13th of October,  69 days later, Mr. Welch described Aramark’s “deployment of a team of nutritionists who developed special meals for the miners and a way to deliver thousands rations,”

It took seventeen days before the world even discovered that the miners were alive and trapped  2,257 feet (3 miles) below.  It was then that Aramark’s specialists went into action,  planning the delivery of necessary nutrients through tubes.

When the 33 miners emerged on the 13th of October, all of them were healthy, in significant part due to the united efforts of Chilean and American engineers, doctors and Aramark.

But Aramark  was not the only Pennsylvania company involved in a rescue operation, officially called “Operacion San Lorenzo” named after the patron Saint of Miners.

Center Rock, Inc. of Berlin, Pa., and Schramm, Inc. of West Chester, Pa., provided drilling equipment, which was used in a delicate drilling operation directed by Claudio Soto.

“I’ll never forget the pride we had when we saw the images of the miners freed from those mines, and knowing we played some part in their safe recovery,” said Mr. Welch.

John Anderson, the CEO and President of the Oppenheimer Group, was also honored by the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The Philadelphia region has all that it takes to become an international hub and (increase) its commercial trade,” asserted Mr. Ricardo Maldonado, CEO of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce. “We want to see more companies from Chile coming here, bringing their products and opportunities. But we also want companies from this region exporting their products and making Chile their hub for technology or services.”

We see this as beneficial for both sides, and it can only get better.”

According to the Dept. of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the tonnage passing through Philadelphia’s port has actually declined 16.3 percent in the last decade. In comparison to other east coast ports, Philadelphia’s exports and imports remain well behind ports in New York/Newark, Norfolk, Va., Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore, Md.

With the dredging of the Delaware river begun under the Rendell administration, the region’s historic strength in freight rail transportation, and further improvements to Philadelphia’s port infrastructure, the city’s port would be poised to take advantage of that vital “connectivity,” which transportation experts say is crucial to revitalizing Philadelphia as a trade center.