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   Vol. 15  No. 52
Monday July 11, 2016

Ullrich Met The Challenge

Ullrich Met The Challenge

     Peter 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 was born.

Flowering Endeavors

     The founder 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.

Bill and Lynn Spohrer
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).
      “It’s really 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, dear Peter.

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