Originally printed in the March 2022 issue of Produce Business.
For the Katzman family, working in the produce business is a long-established tradition, starting in the early 1900’s with a horse and wagon. And when a time came when the family needed a little help, it was one of their own who answered the call.
This photo is from 1954, and shows Harold Katzman (second generation in the business) and his original roadside fruit stand, Pine Acres Farms, in Florida. In 1959, when his parents (Samuel and Wilhelmina, first generation) got sick, Harold came back up to New York to help the family and operate the business— and soon after the S. Katzman Produce company we know and love today was born.
Stephen Katzman, owner and president, S. Katzman Produce (also third generation in the family business), Bronx, NY, remembers his father working hard in those early days. “My dad worked 18 hours a day, five days a week, and took care of the little guys,” says Stephen. “He would come home in the morning and eat his dinner while I had breakfast. I would go to school smelling like steak and onions.”
Back then, as it is today, the year-round business was all about relationships. “My dad made a living. He was one of those guys in the industry no one could ever say anything bad about. He was very fair and honest— he did what he said. It was based on your word,” says Stephen.
Today, while times have changed, the business is still very much the same, and is still built and based on honesty and integrity just like in those early days. “Customers keep coming back. From the big to the little guys, they know what they are getting at a fair price,” he says.
Stephen does see an evolving consumer in the past 10 to 15 years. “Produce has become a sexy item. Consumers want the right kind of product. They are much more demanding and want good tasting produce. It’s all about the flavor. They want a pleasurable experience.”
Stefanie Katzman, executive vice president of the company (Stephen’s daughter and fourth generation in the family business), agrees. “The consumers’ eating habits have changed and they are cooking more at home. They are more prone to try new items.”
Whatever the future holds regarding consumer and business trends, for S. Katzman Produce, the next generation is primed and ready to take on those challenges and opportunities. Some things change, and some things stay the same. Today, the company offers produce from all over the world, while still offering the same values of honesty and integrity.
“We are very excited for the future,” says Stefanie. “We’re going to keep growing. We will still be here.”