Callye Keen sits down with Chalo Hernandez of El Paso, TX. Chalo and Callye share experiences of growing up in family owned product businesses. The challenges. The opportunities, and how that experience has shaped their career paths.
Chalo’s parents immigrated from Mexico, and started Tortilleria Cuauhtémoc, their food based business with nothing more than a dream and their credit cards. Now Chalo begins the process of taking over the business that has been in his family since he was eight years old.
Over the past 20 years that business has grown from nothing to 40 employees, six delivery trucks, and over 250 regular accounts. Their products are special because they have no preservatives in them. There is nothing to extend the shelf life, which makes logistics a key component of their success. As Chalo moves into that role he created an online store and has set a goal to ship their fresh tortillas and chips to all 50 states before the end of 2022.
[04:16] Family business before all else
In middle school we would have parent teacher conferences and 99 percent of the time my parents wouldn't be able to attend because of the business. They were grinding it out. I would see my friends go out to the mall and I would call my parents, "hey, can I go with my friends? They are going to go hang out." And that was just not allowed because I had to work in the family business. There was always a need for more corn tortillas and flour tortillas.
[07:23] No need for a resume
Friends don’t understand when I tell them I don’t have a resume. I’ve never needed one. I’ve never been on a job interview or filled out an employment application. I’ve never had those experiences, yet I’ve interviewed lots of people for jobs in our company. It’s always been the family business for me. Even before my formal education was complete, I knew I would be working in a legacy business.
[10:00] Employee mindset
People will bring the employee mindset into their business. “I'm going to be my own boss. I'm not going to have to answer to anyone.” The reality is every employee is your boss. Every customer is your boss. The bank's going to be your boss. All you've done is sign up for every single person in the world to be your boss.
[11:08] How do you sell tortillas?
We’ve built this business without paid ads or an intentional marketing strategy. The quality of our products and word of mouth have been the biggest factors in growing the business. It’s only recently that we have started focusing more on social media and marketing. We’ve grown because we care about our customers and our quality. We make a thicker tortilla, which makes for a better experience.
[14:21] Layering success
As a business, how can you take what’s already working and layer new success on top of that? Subscriptions are one way to layer success.
[22:38] Start with the end
Start with the end in mind. Understand what you want the company to grow into.. How do you want it to look? How many employees? How many locations? Start building in that direction or you’re going to end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Don’t leave it up to chance.
“It sounds like magic, but it is a harsh reality. The thing that you want, you couldn't keep it if you got it, because you're not the person that would be able to run with it. Yet.”