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By Diane Toops – News & Trends Editor | 05/18/2009
News and Trends Editor Diane Toops recently sat down with Bryce Ruiz, president and co-CEO, Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif. to talk about business and the history of Ruiz Foods. The following is the transcript of their conversation:
FP: In 1964, your grandfather, Louis Ruiz, and your father, Fred, one of the icons in the food industry, laid the foundations for Ruiz Foods to provide authentic Mexican food to consumers in the U.S. Since then, Ruiz has become a multi-million dollar company, the largest food manufacturer of frozen Mexican food, with some 2,600 employees. Could you tell us about their original strategy for success?
BR: Wow … if you talked to my dad, I don’t think you’d hear him say they had a "strategy" back in 1964. I don’t think entrepreneurs have a strategy … even today. I think entrepreneurs inherently just create. They come up with an idea and they’re willing to work hard to see if their idea is good enough to be successful. I do believe dad and grandpa knew early on they had a good idea. My grandma did make incredibly good Mexican food and it was her recipes that they based their burritos, enchiladas and tamales on. But that doesn’t mean they thought it would be easy. In fact, my dad shares a great story of how one time, very early in Ruiz Foods, funds were short and dad didn’t know if they’d make payroll without having to borrow money. What was grandpa’s answer to the pending dilemma? “Well then, we just have to work harder.” For them there was no other option.
“Our vision is to keep Ruiz Foods a family-owned and family-operated company that continues its legacy of making great food as it demonstrates our passion for making a difference.”- - Bryce Ruiz
BR: I’m not sure if I would say food preferences change but I do think food preferences broaden … whether it’s the Latino population, the Italian population, the German population, etc. It’s human nature to try new foods, new tastes, new textures and new flavors. And, in most cases, people like what they try … want more and are willing and interested to try more … and so the cycle continues.
FP: What it is about your brands that make them connect with consumers, and are you developing products that help consumers put great meals on the table for an affordable price?
BR: I’m proud to say that from that first day in 1964, Ruiz Foods has been helping consumers put great meals on the table for an affordable price. Dad and grandpa Louis started with my grandma’s recipes for burritos, tamales and enchiladas – quality, authentic Mexican food for families who were also looking for value – in fact, several of our original El Monterey Burrito flavors remain among the top ten items in the frozen Mexican food category.