Ullrich, CEO/Owner of Challenge Air Cargo, died June 29
in Miami, Florida. Challenge Air Cargo operated from January
1985 until UPS bought the company in February 2001.
The measure of the man
and what he meant to air cargo can be felt in a statement
he once made:
“I can proudly say
that I have owned one of the few and last existing privately
operated cargo airlines, building it from scratch up to
its successful integration into the global operating UPS
network in 2001.
“My heartfelt thanks
to the many people during that time, who made it possible
simply going the extra mile.”
UPS bought the name, trademark,
and the Latin American routes of Challenge Air Cargo,
but the aircraft were not included in the take-over. Peter
Ullrich retained 3 McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-40F freighters
and the FAA operating certificate, and Centurion Air Cargo
of Esmeralda Farms, Peter Ullrich was a pioneer in the
flower business, touching thousands of lives around
the world with his unparalleled passion.
He began during the early
1970s by distributing flowers in the Miami area, making
several trips to the airport cargo area (MIAD) in Miami
in his tiny MG, which he loaded up with boxes of flowers
for distribution to local business.
Today Esmeralda is a
big company with operations both in Miami and the Netherlands.
It is dedicated to the sales, marketing, and distribution
of flowers and only sells flowers grown by its own operated
farms in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Peter Ullrich was born
in Bad Wildungen, Germany, in 1942, and moved to the
United States in 1962.
Peter was one of the
first growers to establish a presence in Latin America,
and foresee the possibilities of its favorable climate
in which he could grow flowers on a year-round basis.
For over 35 years he was involved in the international
floral industry growing, importing, and marketing flowers.
Herr Ullrich was a pioneer in developing and adopting
cutting-edge technologies that not only assist in building
better business in the floral industry, but also create
cleaner and safer working environments for his employees.
But it was his desire to control
flower movement that put Peter Ullrich into the air
cargo business. He had the good sense (and perhaps luck)
to get involved with “Gentleman” Bill Spohrer,
who set up the Ullrich-funded Challenge Air Cargo.
After Challenge, Bill and Lynn Wilson Spohrer (a noted
hotel designer) “retired” to an area of
northern Florida called “the panhandle,”
where they lovingly restored three Victorian mansions
into the Coombs House Inn. The inn continues today as
a landmark luxury bed and breakfast.
With its dynamic leadership
under Bill Spohrer, Challenge was a not only a great
cargo carrier but also dominating industry force for
good. Challenge gave back to the business with actions
that included the start up sponsorship of the Air Cargo
Americas trade show. It also lent major support to TIACA’s
1992 trade show comeback in Luxembourg.
Challenge Air Cargo had
grown into a powerful niche player and a genuine Miami
original. It built a huge (at the time) 100,000-square
foot handling facility on what had been a part of the
notorious Miami International Airport on the 36th Street
side, then referred to as “Corrosion Corner”(for
the dozens of old piston engine cargo aircraft parked
there and the colorful people who operated them).
a giant reefer masquerading as a cargo terminal,”
Peter told me when the building was dedicated.
Peter leaves behind his
beloved wife, Clarisse Ullrich of Amelia Island, Florida;
son Peter F. Ullrich Jr. and his wife, Shannon of Austin,
Texas; son Stephen Ullrich and his wife, Rafaela of
Miami, FL; daughter Monica Ullrich and her husband,
Kim of Miami Beach, FL; brother Alex Ullrich and his
wife, Ida of Costa Rica; four grandchildren, Natasha,
Yasmina, Alex, and Max, as well as several nieces and
nephews. Mr. Ullrich will be laid to rest at a later
date on the grounds of Esmeralda Farms.
Happy landings always,