Catania Worldwide’s Texas facility creates new opportunities

catanWhen Catania Worldwide opened its new facility in McAllen, TX, in June of 2019, the goal was to establish an office and warehouse that would make it easier to move fruit from Mexico into Canada and the United States.

A year later, the new operation has not only fulfilled that mission, it has also allowed the company to do things it hadn’t done before.

“In one year, it’s been far more beneficial than I even imagined,” said Paul Catania, president of Catania Worldwide, which has offices in Mississauga, ON, Vineland, NJ, and Mexico, along with its Stellar Distributing outfit in Madera, CA.

Prior to establishing its presence in Texas, Catania was distributing fruit exclusively for itself, but after a few months, Matt Catania, who heads the operation in McAllen, saw an opportunity to build on that.

“I started trying to build a customer base of my own with some of our products, mainly limes to start,” Matt said. “With some of the new customers I’ve picked up here, we’ve increased the lime business by almost 50 percent. It’s also allowing us to bring more items into the United States, some items we were already doing and looking to expand on.”

Limes and lemons are key fruits for Catania, and Matt Catania has also discovered opportunities with other commodities.

“For me, the most exciting thing going on right now is the prickly pear program out of Mexico,” he said. “Again, that is something that we’ve had existing business on, we would bring them through Mexico and ship them strictly to Toronto. But I’ve started to expand the prickly pear business into the United States and we’ve had some early success with that.”

He added that prickly pears and figs offer appeal to shoppers who are looking for something exotic and rare to add to their regular staple of fruits.

“They’re not items that 20 other people here in McAllen are handling, they’re more or less specialty items,” Matt said. “Right off the bat, that makes things more exciting.”

Matt’s upbringing made him the perfect candidate to lead the McAllen facility. He worked for the company for about five years and left to pursue other interests, including his own business, before returning to run the Texas facility.

“Because it’s my family’s company, it’s always been interesting to me,” he said. “And when I heard they were opening a branch here in Texas with items that I’m familiar with, it sounded like an exciting opportunity to start something new and come back into the business. And I’m glad I did, it’s a really great fit.”

Paul Catania added that the base in Texas has helped the company continue to maintain excellent relationships with others in the produce industry and better serve customers. And those are key factors to Catania Worldwide’s success.

“We treat our people well —people who work with us and who we work for—we treat everybody with respect,” said Paul. “Hopefully, we’re doing things right. We’ve grown over the years, but we still like to think of it as a family-owned operation.”

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