U.S. Small Business Administration Announces Anita’s Mexican Foods Corp.’s Robles Family as 2014 California Small Business Persons of the Year
Southern California-based family-owned wholesale food manufacturer competed successfully against five other nominees throughout the state to claim the California title and now moves on to compete for national honors.
Siblings Ricardo, Pablo “Rene”, and Jackie Robles, three of the five siblings and owners of Anita’s Mexican Food Corporation, have been selected to receive this year’s Small Business Persons of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Santa Ana District Office. The business was nominated for the award by Pacific West Certified Development Corporation, in recognition of the owners’ accomplishments growing revenues in the business 112% over the past three years and increasing employment by 129 positions. Marina and Marisela are the other two siblings and owners.
The story of Anita’s is quite frankly, inspirational. The origins of the business date back to 1952, when the patriarch of the Robles family, Mauro, arrived in the U.S. from his native Zacatecas, Mexico to pursue the American Dream. Mauro Robles’ entrepreneurial spirit and insight led to the founding in 1958 of what is now San Bernardino-based Anita’s Mexican Food Corp. What originally began as a flour tortilla manufacturer has grown to become a major flour and corn based food manufacturing wholesaler and co-packer, with more than 1,000 different SKUs under 8 trademarks, including La Reina, Anita’s, La Tolteca, and Old Pueblo Ranch. It specializes in tortilla and snack foods distributed nationally and internationally to Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and throughout South America. Many of its co-pack, private label items are sold to retail outlets that include many national, organic, specialty, and club stores.
As a family run business, Anita’s has taken a long-term point-of-view regarding its investments for growth. The Robles siblings have invested time, money and energy in products they believed in even when there was not market acceptance at the time. For example, they were the first company to introduce organic corn tortilla chips in various types of organic corn (i.e. blue, yellow, and white corn). After a national firm flooded the market with their corn tortilla chips, Anita’s demonstrated its capacity to innovate by becoming the first business in the organic, GMO free, and gluten free corn tortilla chip market and expanding the food service side of their business, which now accounts for a considerable portion of their revenues.
In 2012, the SBA and its lending partners, through SBA 504 loan financing, facilitated a project that totaled over $9.7 million for real estate, improvements, and equipment for the company at its San Bernardino manufacturing facility located at 3454 Mike Daley Drive. Since the SBA assistance, it has grown employment by 33 positions. The company also operates a flour tortilla manufacturing facility in East Los Angeles, one of the largest employers in its area, from which more than 1.5 million tortillas emerge on a slow day.
The Robles siblings maintain involvement in the community; both Ricardo, the eldest sibling and President of Anita’s Mexican Food Corporation and Rene, his younger brother who is the company’s Vice President, are active parishioners at St. Therese Church and members of the Knights of Columbus. Ricardo is a Foundation Board Member at Santa Marta Hospital and at East Los Angeles Community College, and is Director on the Foundation Board for Alta-Med Health Services, a nonprofit human and health service organization. Jackie, the company’s General Manager, fundraises by running for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and, since 2009, has served as a board member for the Tortilla Industry Association, of which the company was a founding member.
In addition to winning at the district level, the Robles’ nomination package was selected from among the 6 SBA districts in California to represent the state at the National Small Business Week Awards. The company will vie for top honors against Small Business Person of the Year winners from each of the 50 states for a chance to be selected as the National Small Business Person of the Year.
“The Robles family is a stellar example of the success that can be achieved if you work hard, innovate, and invest in your community. Family-owned businesses aren’t always the easiest to operate, but Ricardo, Rene, and Jackie have definitely found the right combination of duties to share in making Anita’s a savvy and successful business,” said District Director Adalberto Quijada.
Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, in order to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. As part of National Small Business Week, SBA takes the opportunity to highlight their impact, working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.