SLO sausage maker Ray’s Own Brand taking brand national

After some challenging times, a family-owned San Luis Obispo jerky and sausage company is going national.

Ray’s Own Brand has signed on with national food distribution company McLane, which serves more than 54,000 grocery and food service locations across the country.

Such expansion is ambitious considering that owner and chief sausage and jerky maker Ray Cattaneo recently overcame bladder cancer.

“I am getting stronger, and (the employees) keep getting smarter,” he said.

Started in 2003, Ray’s Own Brand is owned by Ray and Nina-Marie Cattaneo and headquartered in a USDA-certified meat processing plant that Ray designed and built next to their home in Edna Valley.

Ray’s Own Brand has no affiliation or relation to Cattaneo Brothers Inc. — another local, family-owned meat processing company.

Through McLane’s distribution, Ray’s is now being sold in convenience stores throughout California and Nevada, with plans to expand to Texas and beyond.

It’s also currently sold on the Central Coast at Spencer’s Fresh Markets, Scolari’s, Food 4 Less and Albertsons. Business expansion has meant hiring six more employees.

Nina-Marie, who specializes in marketing for the company, said with a chuckle that the pair is ready for the increased production: “No children. No life. Sleep is highly overrated.”