Matarazzo Brothers LLC

Transforming from tomatoes to one-stop-produce shop in Chelsea
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
James Logan

After more than 50 years in the produce business, Matarazzo Brothers LLC is reinventing itself, evolving from a specialty tomato house to one-stop-shop for a number of produce items. Based in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Matarazzo Brothers has recently changed ownership, but Anthony Aresco Jr., owner and partner, says the name remains as well as the company’s commitment to superior customer service.

“With the way the industry has changed, we had to change too,” he shares. “Years ago, there were only two tomato suppliers, but now, the market is saturated and everyone sells tomatoes, along with a number of other items. Customers are not going to come to us just to buy tomatoes when they can buy peppers, cucumbers, herbs – any number of items – all at once. They want a one-stop-shop and being that is going to take our business to the next level.”

Matarazzo Brothers has been in the produce industry for more than 50 years, starting with Sam Matarazzo in the early ‘60s. “My father, Anthony Aresco Sr., served as the plant manager and my uncle, Yano Aresco, was in sales,” recounts Anthony. “Together, they purchased the company in 1989.”

A new business model to meet today’s demand

The first generation of Arescos ran the business until September 2014 when Anthony and his cousin, Sal Aresco, took over along with a new partner, Franco Chilante. “Franco has really been key in this transition because he brought with him experience and a line of about 100 different new produce items with a customer base and six or so employees,” explains Anthony.

“Until Sept. 9, 2014, Matarazzo Brothers was strictly a tomato house; we dabbled a little bit in watermelons, green peppers and seedless cucumbers, but 95 percent of our business was tomatoes,” continues Anthony. “Over time, the industry has changed and we had to change with it. This is why we brought on Franco and about 100 different vegetables and herbs. It’s about moving forward.”

But one thing that hasn’t changed is the family name and the company’s commitment to customer service. “We wanted to keep the Matarazzo Brothers name because it’s so well-known,” adds Anthony. “Everyone knows us for our customer service and that’s something we wanted to keep even though we’re not just tomatoes anymore. We’re still bringing in items in pounds and breaking them down, repackaging to the size and specs our customers want. We’ll custom-fit any order, just as it’s always been.”

Ramping up for increased business

Matarazzo Brothers remains headquartered in Chelsea. “We’ve just completed a remodel of our facility, wrapping up in March 2015,” says Anthony. “Bringing on more items, we’ve had to expand to service the customers we weren’t serving before and to make our facility top-notch in terms of food safety.”

Currently, Matarazzo Brothers has a 15,000-square-foot facility. “About 40 percent of this is refrigerated storage and the rest of it is packing,” details Anthony. “We have a second location: two bays at the New England produce center in Chelsea as well. Matarazzo Brothers employs 20 people, including office and packing staff and some in-house truck drivers. 95 percent of our customers pick up at the produce center, but if you need a delivery, we can do it – no problem.”

The come-back kid

With 100-plus new vegetable items, Anthony says Matarazzo Brothers has its sights on getting back into the top sector of the market. “We’re working our way back to the top,” he assures.

But it hasn’t been an easy climb. “Supermarket chain stores no longer want outdoor-grown items, they want things grown in hot houses in a controlled environments for longer shelf life, better appearance and taste,” considers Anthony. “They often bypass the middleman and make a deal directly with the hot house grower, so as you can see, it cuts us out of the picture. That was our biggest challenge on the tomato end.”

Slowly, but surely, Matarazzo Brothers downsized this end of the business and began to phase out what wasn’t working. Now with new ownership and a fresh approach to one-stop produce shopping, Matarazzo Brothers has all of the ingredients for success. “Now it’s just about executing it,” says Anthony. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

Matarazzo Brothers LLC has the team in place to reposition the company and a well-known name to build on that has been a trusted source in the produce industry for more than 50 years.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
The Salad Farm