2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Johnny Karrat

Director of Sales & Operations
Capital City Produce
Troy, NY

Age: 25
Hometown: Clifton Park, NY
Hobbies: Skiing, Boating, Going to the beach, Cooking/grilling, Spending time with family and friends
Family/Community: St. Ann’s Maronite Catholic Church, St. Jude Children’s Hospital
Motto in life: Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never achieve it.

Karrat was born into the produce business. His great-grandfather was a wholesaler in Utica, NY, and his grandfather was a broker at the Menands Farmers Market in Albany, NY, where Karrat’s father also worked. His father eventually started Capital City Produce in 2012. Before Capital City, Karrat would accompany his father to work on the weekends, where he learned how to drive trucks and forklifts, and how to sell flowers and berries to the public. He began working every summer, learning all aspects of the business. He worked in the warehouse, on the packing line and assisting in picking orders. Eventually, he moved up to working in the processing room. He eventually was able to run every production line, which led him to become supervisor of the room. During the summers, once he started college in 2016, he was pulled back into the warehouse to assist in the wholesaling and trucking end of the business, while at the same time getting his bachelor’s degree in business management.

After graduating in December 2019, he returned to the business and started working in the office, handling day-to-day pricing and sales. In 2020, he became the company’s general manager. He managed daily employee activity and shipping and receiving, while still overseeing production and also taking on the responsibility of food safety management getting HACCP and FSPCA certified. One of his first big projects was partnering with the Regional Food Bank to pack truckloads of fresh produce boxes for those in need. He also started a local fresh box program. After two years, he is now responsible for the sales and operations of Capital City Produce, next in command to his father. He oversees all operations and food safety of the new processing facility.

Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?

Though I was born into the produce business, I cultivated my own passion for it. I learned from a young age that it wasn’t just the produce business that I was becoming a part of, but my family’s legacy.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?

Hard work pays off. My parents pushed me to work as early as I could, and I was never against it, however, it was difficult being a naïve teenager working for a produce company and only seeing so far ahead. Knowing what I know now, and still continuously taking it in, it is all worth it. The work is hard, but it is the best payoff.

Q: What is the one thing in your business you are most passionate about?

I am most passionate about the product we push out of our building and getting that product on everybody’s plates.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?

The lack of help, not just in our industry, but everywhere, seems to be the biggest change, especially since COVID.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

My biggest accomplishment is being able to continue my family’s legacy in the produce industry. My great-grandfather came to New York from Lebanon with the plan to give his family a better life. I am now the fourth generation in the produce industry, with plans to not just grow our business, but also our legacy and continue to strive for a successful life for my future family.