(Aug. 16) WESLACO, Texas — McManus-Wyatt Hidalgo Produce Marketing Co., a major shipper of vegetables and melons grown in the lower Rio Grande Valley and Texas, has ceased operations.

The company, formerly J.S. McManus Produce, was one of the oldest and largest grower-shippers in the valley. Oscar Wyatt, founder of Houston-based energy company Coastal Corp., acquired a major interest in the company in December 1998 and changed its name. Produce industry sources said Wyatt has closed the doors.

Wyatt was out of the country and unavailable for comment Aug. 15. According to Red Book Credit Services, McManus-Wyatt Hidalgo Produce was to close Aug. 16. Company officers referred questions to Wyatt.

Red Book Credit Services, Lenexa, Kan., is owned by Vance Publishing Corp., Lincolnshire, Ill., which also owns The Packer.

Former sales manager Billy Traylor joined Frontera Produce LLC, Edinburg, on the sales desk in early August.

“They closed her up,” said Traylor, who referred questions to other company officers.

Other Wyatt-owned companies in the Rio Grande Valley are independent of the produce shipping company and remain in operation. They include Magic Valley Fresh Frozen Inc., McAllen; Wyatt-Hidalgo Farms, Edinburg; and Tasa Trucking Inc., McAllen.

Wyatt-Hidalgo Farms grew most of the vegetables packed and shipped by McManus-Wyatt Hidalgo Produce Marketing, which operated as McManus-Wyatt Produce Co. Inc.

The farming operation has about 7,000 acres in Texas, former general manager Bob McIntosh said in a previous interview. McIntosh retired from the company in June.

The company’s main commodities were carrots, cabbage, cantaloupes, honeydews and onions.

Company founder J.S. McManus began farming in the valley in 1939, and he incorporated the shipping company in 1979. McManus’ son-in-law, Bobby Lackey, became president of the company in 1980. Lackey and his son, operations manager John Lackey, left the company in 2000, after a conflict in business philosophies with chairman Wyatt.