Making a Mark Ayer-Based Oil Company Ready for the Future with a New Name and a Fourth Generation at Its Helm
Anthony Basile, former president, third generation
Joseph Basile, president, fourth generation
Stephen Basile, vice president, fourth generation
By Anna Sims
hen a family business has endured for four generations, it must be doing something right. But in the case of Ayer-based Catania Oils, a processor and packager of organic, non-GMO vegetable, olive and blended oils, that something might just be a desire to continually change and improve. “Every generation, every step of the way has taken [the business] further and further,” said Stephen Basile, vice president and a fourth generation family member. “Now it’s our turn.” Stephen, along with his brother Joseph Basile, president, are leading the way as the fourth generation to put its mark on the business. Recently that leadership has included unveiling a new company name. Long known as Catania Spagna Corp., the company in February changed its name to Catania Oils to better support the brand. Troubles with the company’s original 6
name, Catania Spagna Corp., included frequent mispronunciation of “spanga.” The original name also made no mention of the company’s actual product, oils, which could cause confusion. “Even once we’d explain to people that we’re in oils, they would say, ‘Oh, like fuel?’ And we’d have to explain, ‘No, like cooking oils.’ That’s why our logo is [an image that’s half plant, half oil drop] giving off those more natural, earthy tones that speak to plant-based oils,” Stephen said. The name change also helped align the company’s offerings with its existing reputation. “Within our different divisions – we have retail, food service and food manufacturing – for the most part, we weren’t referred to as Catania Spagna Corp., we were referred to as Catania,” Joseph said. “We looked at it and we felt like there was a lot of brand awareness [already] with the name Catania … as well as gen-
erational history. It was important to us to keep Catania in the company name.” Treasuring A Legacy The history of Catania Oils began in a small village in Sicily where Giuseppe Basile – great-grandfather of Joseph and Stephen – started selling oil in his neighborhood. Giuseppe immigrated to the United States around 1900, landing at Ellis Island before settling in Lynn, Massachusetts, where he continued the work. “He started selling oil door to door with the hopes of creating a family business without really knowing what the legacy would become,” Stephen said. Today, Giuseppe’s one-time door-to-door business operates in a more than 250,000-squarefoot facility in Ayer. Packing more than $225 million in oils each year for customers including Stop & Show, Whole Foods and General Mills, the company employs more than 140 workers, including 13 family members.