Nathel & Nathel marks a century of success while looking to the future
While talking about the Hunts Point Produce Market, Joshua Gatcke of Nathel & Nathel remembered bringing a new employee there for the first time a few years ago and walking through the market’s main buying office.
“He said, ‘It feels and sounds like a trading floor,’ because there are a million phones ringing, and there are people talking over one another,” the company’s general manager said. “The same way New York City is like a rat race, there a million things happening all at once — that’s the way things happen in the warehouse, It’s very energetic.”
Gatcke noted that the market is unique because New York is a one-of-a-kind city, as are its surrounding areas.
“Those two things together make it a very fast-paced environment where we’re able to handle a large volume of product,” he said. “And it’s a very competitive market at that, so those have all come together to create this very, very dynamic landscape where you’re competing with a lot of other really strong firms that all bring something special to the table.”
Nathel & Nathel is a fourth-generation family business that was established in 1922, and its nearly century of success is due to its commitment to building relationships and providing clients with exceptional products and services.
Gatcke added that the company’s success in Hunts Point is due to the passion its leaders and staff have for their work.
“It’s a 24-hour business, and you have to have employees and individuals that are available around the clock —it can be 1 in the morning or 1 in the afternoon, and you have to be on it,” he said. “I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to — a deep passion for what you do and having the ability to keep up with that energy. Some days it gets the better of you, but as long as you’re able to keep up with it most days, I think that’s what it really comes down to.”
COVID-19 has made the past year very challenging, but Gatcke said this is also been a period of change for Nathel & Nathel.
“Obviously, the pandemic was difficult for everybody, we were maybe one of the luckier industries in that everybody still has to eat, so we were able to navigate through the pandemic maybe a little easier than other industries,” he said. “We’ve been really focusing on our retail customers, making sure that we support them as best as we can and not just support them but really think about how we can better serve them.”
Nathel & Nathel has done that through its commitment to food safety, including using technology that better tracks foreign supplies in an automated fashion, which allows for immediate notification of a recall or food safety outbreak.
Some of the steps the company is taking is pursuing its SQF Food Safety certification and introducing its online ordering app.
Looking at industry trends, Gatcke said packaged items are growing in popularity, and there are always niche items customers want.
“Lately, the pink pineapples have been a huge item that retail customers love, they just can’t get enough of it, and making sure that we’re able to fulfill that need is really important,” he said.
Packaged salads are another hot item, and Nathel & Nathel is the exclusive supplier for Little Leaf Farms, based in Massachusetts, which Gatcke said uses a process that is nearly fully automated, with essentially zero human interaction to safely provide an exceptional product.
“It can be in your fridge for three weeks and you can take it out and open it up and it would taste just as good as if you opened it the day you bought it,” he said.
Offering clients those kinds of innovative products is just one way Nathel & Nathel stands out on the Hunts Point Produce Market.