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Archive for the ‘WESLACO’ Category

From UT Pan American, an informative article about how a South Texas entrepreneur built her tortilla business:

La Abuela Mexican Foods first opened its doors in 1984 as a food manufacturer of various tortillas and tortilla products whose taste, freshness, and convenience make into high sellers. Since then, the company, founded and managed by Ms. Wells, has experienced tremendous growth. Recently, La Abuela embarked on yet another growth experience: obtaining capital resources to initiate an expansion plus physical relocation.

Cristina M. Wells, President and the creator of the company, moved to the United States in 1990 from Monterrey, Mexico. Using the traditional recipes used by Mexican housewives, she began producing homemade, uncooked, flour tortillas, with no preservatives, conditioners, or extenders. This idea has blossomed into a successful small business which offers its products to thousands of customers in an area from the Rio Grande Valley to Corpus Christi.

Initially selling the tortillas to friends, she evolved her concept and tested its marketability. Her first opportunity to introduce the product to a bigger market came from HEB on N 10th in McAllen. Ms. Wells then cautiously increased production for a number of HEBs and later expanded into every main grocery franchise in South Texas, a few convenience stores, and several local restaurants. To keep up with product demand, she moved into a location with a few employees. She combined mass production and distribution techniques to create a product which has a superior taste and is unparalleled in quality.  

Recently, to ensure her company’s continued growth and expansion into new markets, Ms. Wells decided to expand the operations and relocate from its current downtown McAllen facility to Weslaco. The move gave La Abuela the space and flexibility it needs to continue to increase its year round production capability in pursuit of La Abuela’s growth goals.

In preparing for the expansion of the facility, Ms. Wells sought the assistance of various agencies, among which were the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center, the Department of Agriculture, and the Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

 

Making tortillas at La Abuela

Making tortillas at La Abuela

One particular obstacle, shared by many small and expanding businesses, was the need for capital to support the expansion. La Abuela sought capital assistance from the SBA with counseling support from the Small Business Development Center, a component of CoSERVE. The SBDC assisted Ms. Wells in completing the business plan and loan proposal to the bank and SBA.

Ms. Wells takes pride in leading an organization with a positive business forecast and a positive impact on the community. La Abuela works closely with the Department of Agriculture and is involved in the “Go Texan” program: over 80% of the La Abuela’s product comes from Texas. Ms. Wells welcomes success for La Abuela, its employees, and its vendors.

La Abuela’s greatest assets are its accumulated knowledge of production and marketing combined with its experienced workforce. The staff has grown and Ms. Wells expects the business to continue to grow, creating an overall impact on the local economy. Ms. Wells and La Abuela have garnered a wealth of information and numerous allies in their path to success. They look forward to the new challenges the expansion will bring, working in new markets and strengthening their current knowledge.

For further information on the services offered by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), please call the SBDC at (956) 292-7535.  SBDC staff will be more than glad to answer any questions you have on starting and/or expanding a business venture.

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Thanks to Paris Permenter and John Bigley (http://www.texastripper.com) for this well-written and entertaining overview of the annual Onion Fest in Weslaco, TX.

Lovin Onions in Weslaco, TX

Lovin' Onions in Weslaco, TX

 

Where: Weslaco City Park at 300 North Airport Drive in Weslaco, Texas.

When: late March, early April (check website for updates)

Why: An annual, one-day ode to the 1015 sweet onion makes for a sweet treat for the 26,935 residents of this Hidalgo County town.

 Entertainment: As mariachi music plays, crowds will clap for the rhythmic clip-clop of The Andalusian and Azteca dancing horses. Honoring a proud Hispanic heritage, charro riders in traditional “trajes” take the purebred Spanish horses through their paces, while Escaramuzas perform sidesaddle, demonstrating the elegance of the equine sport.

From country crooners to lively mariachi melodies, soul-stirring gospel to pulsating Latin beats, musical notes will mingle in the air with the spicy aroma of onion blossoms as live musical acts perform on two stages throughout the day.

Events: Wii generation gamers can jam like Jimi Hendrix as they simulate playing a six-string during Guitar Hero III or pretend to be Pikachu, Mario, Link or another Nintendo character during a combative round of Super Smash Brothers, two of the tournaments being held at the Internet Cafe.

The Escaramuza troupe (all female riders,) perform at Onion Fest. The legend of the Escaramuzas began during the Mexican Revolution when women on horseback would follow soldiers, carrying supplies.

The Escaramuza troupe (all female riders,) perform at Onion Fest. The legend of the Escaramuzas began during the Mexican Revolution when women on horseback would follow soldiers, carrying supplies.

Win or lose, participants will have tears streaming down their faces at the conclusion of the onion-eating contest. Four categories– youth, adult, senior and celebrity, will compete for prizes in this event.

If the sight of award-winning appetizers and main courses inspire you to concoct your own culinary creations, stock up on supplies at the Farmer’s Market, where vendors sell vegetables and fruit along with jellies and jams. If have a hankering for tried and true festival food, head over to the food vendors for a corn dog, taco, and of course, an awesome blossom.

The sparkle of a silver necklace or the sight of a bluebonnet painting draws visitors into the Arts & Crafts tent, where the array of books, CDs, artwork and ornaments on sale make a lasting souvenir of your day at the festival.

Children’s Activities: The imaginations of little sprouts can blossom with the array of activities offered at the Knapp Medical Family Area, while energetic imps can shoot down an inflatable slide or ride a Ferris wheel just their size, or tackle a rock climbing wall.

For more information: www.weslaco.com
Photos courtesy Weslaco Chamber of Commerce

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