FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Back in 1964, the Ruiz family decided to make a change and start their own business in California.
“It was really a small operation working out of the family’s home and that’s really where it all started,” said Pete Mayadag, operations director at Ruiz Foods.
A small warehouse operation expanded to sell their products to local mom and pop grocery shops. Quickly, they became the nation’s leading distributor of frozen Mexican food.
One of their three manufacturing facilities is located in Florence.
“Really it’s been a growth and desire for the people in the east coast to have frozen Mexican food in the Monterey brand and Tornado brands,” said Mayadag.
The ‘El Monterey’ brand includes products such as burritos, tamales, empanadas and there’s more.
“The Tornado is taquito types. We have small taquitos, quesadillas and empanadas, those are the main products that we make,” said Tommy Pruitt, HR Manager at Ruiz Foods.
Instead of trying new ingredients and putting things together, Louis and Fred Ruiz had an idea to base their food around the recipes of Fred’s mother and include a special meaning for this company.
“The word Fred uses are that we have to support the children in our community, they’re our future and really those words resonate back when he and his dad started the business and they still resonate today,” said Mayadag.
Around town people might have heard of program such as Ruiz 4 kids and Ruiz cares, “Last year we were able to donate here in Florence $66,000 worth of scholarships to local students and in addition donated $19,000 worth of teacher grants to the community,” said Pruitt.
With years in the industry, the Ruiz family put a lot of effort to make sure there’s a positive presence in the community.
“The company provides funding for those types of contributions and our actual team members in the facility provide the volunteerism,” said Mayadag.
Ruiz Foods transitioned from a family business to a huge successful company, their story describing the American dream.
“It’s a sense of pride. Employees are proud to really wear the brands around town, they’re proud to see our brands out in the grocery stores and in the convenience story around town. Also being a part of a community that gives back and believe in giving back,” said Pruitt.