Bohn Brings Cold Meat, Hot Profits to Processing Plant

When Anthony P. Catelli, Sr. established Philadelphia-based Anthony Catelli Wholesale Meats in 1946, he did so with a strict attention to detail and a determination to be the best. Before retiring in 1981, he passed his knowledge of the business and customer service philosophies to his sons, Tony and Jim.

More than 30 years later, Catelli Brothers is the largest veal and lamb company on the East Coast, employing over 300 people in its 100,000 square foot automated facilities, and processing more than 1,700 veal calves and 5,000 lambs every week. The facilities, in Collingswood, Shrewsbury and Pennsauken, New Jersey, remain at the pinnacle of safety and efficiency.

Because of the scale of the Catelli Brothers operation, a state-of-the-art refrigeration system is required to ensure freshness of the meat. Strict government guidelines as well as company expectations were guiding principals in the selection of a worthy refrigeration system.

Donald Crozier, vice president of Engineering & Project Management for Catelli Brothers, contacted Jerry Kilroy, sales representative for United Refrigeration, to discuss refrigeration options for an existing building at their Collingswood facility.

“Don approached us about expanding the existing building and updating the refrigeration system,” said Kilroy. “They were really concerned with space and energy savings.”

“We did a lot of research into what type of refrigeration system we wanted,” said Crozier. “We found that Bohn rack systems were the best way to go.”

Chris Bock, product refrigeration manager for United Refrigeration corporate headquarters, agreed with Kilroy’s suggestion to install the rack system. After analyzing the system’s return on investment, Bock was able to demonstrate cost effectiveness of the Bohn rack system. “A good return on investment brings profits after three years. During the past six years, the Catelli facility doubled in size. So relatively, the system did indeed offer a return on investment in three years,” said Bock.

Bill Fryberger of Engineering Equipment Sales, a representative for Heatcraft Refrigeration Products, helped Kilroy design a Bohn rack system with evaporators and air-cooled condensers for Catelli Brothers. The system addressed Crozier’s concerns with space, height and improved efficiency.

“I suggested Bohn racks because of their excellent energy savings,” said Fryberger. “They have the ability to keep the product at an even temperature, which is critical in a packing plant.” Catelli Brothers saw storage capacity increase dramatically with the installation of the Bohn system and product life was prolonged as well.

“We carry $3 million of inventory in our storage coolers,” said Crozier. “We’re in the fresh market, so shelf life is critical. We have improved the shelf life of our product by more than 25 percent.”

The Bohn microprocessors allow Crozier to control the temperature inside the cooling system. He can raise or lower the temperature depending on the production needs. In addition, the temperature can be raised in process rooms on the weekends when the system is not required to run as much due to limited use. When the doors aren’t opened as much, the temperature stays more constant and defrosts are kept to a minimum. This feature of the Bohn system increased the energy efficiency for the Catelli Brothers.

“The Bohn racks use 30% less energy than a comparable split system utilizing electric defrost,” said Crozier. “The energy management alone with our Bohn rack systems gave us a huge payback. Within six years, the whole thing will pay for itself.”

The Service Department at Heatcraft, led by Galen Holzhausen, helped Crozier program and fine-tune the Bohn system to get maximum energy savings.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the service we received,” said Crozier. “Galen was unbelievably technical. If we had any problems, he would get on a plane and work through the issues. I can’t praise Galen enough.”

Catelli Brothers was so impressed with the Bohn systems that they recently installed another Bohn rack system in the Shrewsbury Processing facility. This facility is 100 miles away from the other location in Collingswood, but the system allows Crozier to access both facilities through his computer modem.

The Bohn controller can be monitored from two remote locations, an added benefit to plants similar to Catelli that operate more than one location. The system logs and reports all temperatures every hour on the main computer. If a problem should arise, the system can send information directly to a pager.

“If there is a problem, I can access the system from my office and determine what issues need to be addressed,” said Crozier. “By knowing what the problem is before visiting the plant, I am able to send out the appropriate technician to deal with the issue.”

“We are committed to continually researching and evaluating technological advances in our industry,” says Tony Catelli, president of Catelli Brothers. “As a result, we only use state-of-the-art technology throughout our facilities. The Bohn racks are no exception.”