The smell of red chili always floods me with warm memories.
For many years in my childhood, it was the smell of my dad coming home to dinner from a long day at work, and going back to prepare for the next day even after we ate.
In a family business, everybody works – all the time. I grew up surrounded by the business my father and grandfather created: Ruiz Food Products, Inc.
In 1964, my grandfather, Louis Ruiz, had the idea to sell frozen Mexican food based on recipes of my Grandma Rosie. My dad, Fred, joined him, and from then on, the family business became an important part of our daily lives. To keep the kids busy, my parents gave us small jobs around the factory, like scooping ingredients or helping put stickers on the finished packages.
Today, our small family business has grown into three brand names: El Monterey, Tornados and Three Bold Brothers. I’m so incredibly proud of how far we’ve come. My grandfather moved to the United States from Mexico, and he started and failed at many things before he and my father came together.
In 1990, we started working with another company with humble roots. Walmart had just begun putting freezers in their stores, and my dad thought it would be smart to try and get involved with what they had going on – he was right. Ruiz Foods has grown from a father and son team betting on Grandma Rosie’s recipes to a company with nearly 3,600 team members and manufacturing facilities in California, Texas and South Carolina.
Being able to work so that you can support your family or dreams in a country you call home is a blessing. Every day, I’m thankful that the people I love have that opportunity, and I feel just as much pride that what we’ve accomplished has provided for so many of our neighbors in the community.
Even stronger than the memory of red chili on my dad’s shirt are the values our company is built upon. My father has a tremendous heart, and from him I learned the responsibility – the proud obligation – that we have to our community both as a family, and as a business. We’ve built community engagement into the foundation of everything we do, from encouraging volunteerism with Ruiz Cares to providing young students with college scholarships through Ruiz 4 Kids.
As a family business, our focus is long-term. Whether we’re finding new ways to support other U.S. manufacturers, or helping a student get their college education, we can see how the decisions we make now will impact our people 30 years from now. And that’s something to be proud of.