Cardenas Markets is Bringing Fresh Food and Jobs to California’s Latino Communities
Jul 18, 2012
Many local Latino communities suffer from a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices. Cardenas Markets, with 29 stores, has filled that gap in the Inland Empire, offering a wide selection of meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as the ethnic foods that offer a taste of home for their Latino customers.
When Jesus Cardenas, Sr. moved from Mexico to California in 1957 in search of a better life for his family, he worked in the fields picking fruit. With his wife Luz, he began selling pork, poultry, chorizo, cheeses and dishes based on the local cuisine of their home in Mexico—and the Cardenas stores were born. In only a few years, Cardenas had achieved his dream of being his own boss.
Today, Cardenas Markets is a second-generation family operation with their children Jesus Jr., Jose, George and Lupe all actively involved in managing the business. Over the past ten years, the company has grown from six locations, expanding throughout the state and, most recently, to Las Vegas. The stores, with their bright blue-painted ceilings, are designed to look like outdoor Mexican plazas, offering specialized stations like a tortilleria, a restaurant, bakery and juice bar, alongside standard grocery fare.
Bank of America has worked with Cardenas Markets since they opened their first store. The bank team has helped the family grow the business by providing lines of credit to finance store acquisition and new construction, as well as term loans for buying properties and equipment. They have also provided treasury management, cash management and credit card processing to help run the business day-to-day.
The team also provided advice and guidance about how quickly they should expand, how much debt they could handle, and when it made sense to add more locations. According to Jesus Cardenas Jr., “Over the past ten years, we’ve had 60% to 65% of our growth. Bank of America has been a great partner, helping us stay focused on our two- and three-year plans. They make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves, that we stick with what we can realistically handle.”
David Rofsky, the Senior Client Manager at Bank of America who works closely with the family, sees Cardenas’ success as having a substantial impact on the communities where they do business. He says, “The Cardenas’s are expert at opening new locations. Each time they take over an existing store, they make significant improvements, and then attract other businesses while serving as the anchor tenant. Typically, a new store will mean that they hire hundreds of new people, providing local employment to the community.” Today, the company employs over 3000 people.
Continues Rofsky, “It takes a lot to be a successful family-owned business. Their plan has been to open two or three stores every year and so far they’ve been able to do it. They are filled with ideas, there’s always another project around the bend. They have great plans and have really executed well on them.”
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