Lisitano joins GR Fresh
GR Fresh, which is based in McAllen, TX, recently added a new salesman and strengthened its position in the Nogales, AZ, import and distribution business.
Tony Incaviglia has announced the hiring of Michael Lisitano. Lisitano grew up in the Boston produce business, but he has worked in Nogales for about 15 years, most recently for Del Campo.
Michael Lisitano, age 48, said, “I’m super excited to be starting with this team.” He was familiar with GR Fresh owners, and meeting with them prior to his taking this new position “checked all the boxes.”
The Gonzalez-family GR Fresh grower-owners are in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico. The most-efficient northbound shipping route from there is to McAllen. But, Incaviglia explained, as the Torreon’s summer and fall large shipping volume seasonally declines into the winter months, the Gonzalez family’s farms near Culiacan, Sinaloa, are better-situated to ship to Nogales.
That said, GR Fresh also ships to McAllen from Culiacan, which is in west Mexico.
GR Fresh finishes shipping from Nogales in June, with summertime business entirely going through McAllen. Because of the company’s production diversity, its transitions from one season to the other are designed to be seamless.
The Culiacan deal for GR Fresh will begin around Thanksgiving or early December. The Roma and round tomato harvest there will begin in early January. The firm also ships grape tomatoes, eggplant, Bell peppers, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, romaine, celery and other western veg items.
Incaviglia said Oct. 23 that GR Fresh was beginning to wind down its Torreon production. “Everything looks really good in the west. It’s been warm out west, but it’s cooled off a little, which is a good thing.” The very first early, small volumes of Culiacan cucumbers and squash were underway in late October.
Incaviglia said GR Fresh was cautious in planning its fall and winter volumes and didn’t increase the production of any commodities over what was produced a year ago. “We might be down 10 percent on some acreage. But there is no major back-off on any commodities.” The caution is motivated by uncertainty regarding potential news Coronavirus impact on society.
Incaviglia joins everyone in hoping for a vaccine to improve global health, but GR Fresh is not plunging ahead in an aggressive fashion.
For GR Fresh in this Covid era, “the retail business continues to thrive. Our sales to foodservice and restaurants is not 100 percent.”
Incaviglia said the construction of a new GR Fresh warehouse in McAllen is on schedule for completion as the 2020 wintertime Culiacan deal begins. The firm is initially building a 50,000 square-foot warehouse and office facility, with the ability to expand to a total of 120,000 square feet. “The roof is on and the walls and racks are going up,” he said in late October.