By Martha Sarabia
Encouraged by his father in 1949, Victor Martinez accompanied by his wife Teresa decided to move from his hometown in Jalisco, Mexico to California. Hope for a new life and more opportunities motivated the young married couple to make such a decision.
When Victor arrived to San Diego, he started working in El Charro Tortilleria in the city of Escondido, where he worked for more than two decades. However, in 1980, he once again made a decision that would change his life radically when the Martinez family became owner of its own tortilla factory.
“I knew how to do the job but I was not a businessman and I had to learn,” said Victor about the most difficult thing he had to overcome while starting his own business.
In the 1980s, the nation’s economy was bad followed by high interest rates and raw material costs. Despite these conditions, Teresa always supported her husband’s idea. “I didn’t have the slightest idea of all the things we would go through, we always thought it would be easy,” she said.
In the beginning, there were very difficult times that even led them to think of closing the business. “One August we said, ‘if by December we don’t make ends meet, we’ll close our business,’” said Teresa remembering past experiences. Luckily for the Martinez family, that was not the case and the sales only improved day by day.
At the present time and after 25 years of having founded Esperanza’s Tortilleria, named in honor of Victor’s mother, its owners are proud of what they have been able to achieve in the United States. “As a Mexican, being successful [in this country] makes me feel very proud because Mexicans are always looked down upon,” said Victor.
The company has 38 employees who start working at midnight until about 8 a.m. They make corn and flour tortillas in different sizes and colors for fajitas, tacos, burritos and other uses as well as masa or corn mixture for tamales, corn chips and tostadas. Of this latter one, 80 to 100 boxes are made every day. In addition, wheat tortillas are made for the Vista Unified School District to improve the students’ eating habits. All the products are packed in plastic bags in the same tortilla factory location to guarantee the quality of the products and facilitate the customer’s consumption.
The products done at Esperanza’s Tortilleria can be found in big stores such as Albertson’s as well as in small stores or markets in North San Diego County, Riverside County and Orange County in addition to supplying its products to restaurants in the region. Five delivery trucks are used daily except on Sundays to make the needed deliveries to all of these locations.
The sale of its products in small local businesses has increased substantially since its beginnings. “Whenever they open a small store, they give us a call,” commented Teresa about the new small business owners who contact them to buy their products.
Last year, the company had a $1.7 million in gross annual sales.
Another one of its achievements has been to become the owners of its own premises. That was the main motive that led them to move from San Marcos to Escondido 10 years ago.
According to its owners, the success of more than 25 years is due in large by the time invested to make sure to keep and improve the quality of the products to create a loyal clientele. They also recognize that the best and most effective type of promotion of its products are by word of mouth.
For Hugo, the youngest child of the Martinez couple of 43 years of marriage, all the work that his parents have done is admirable. “The example they have given me is that of success. We have had difficult times but they have been worth it,” said Hugo, who is now working with his parents as the vice president and head of sales.
Hugo has seen from a young age and as member of the six original workers of the tortilla factory the achievements obtained by the business. The most recent one has been the expansion of it. “Throughout the years, we have had the opportunity to get bigger and now we have a Mexican butcher shop and taco shop, with local, fresh and Mexican products,” said both father and son.
The members of the Martinez family advice those who want to establish their own business to analyze their ambitions, economic possibilities, goals and to not let themselves be defeated easily, but above all “to have faith in themselves and to be willing to work hard,” as Teresa said.
Esperanza’s Tortilleria is located at 750 Rock Springs Rd. in Escondido. The store and taco shop is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (760) 743-5908.