Since the company was founded in 2005, Easy Foods, Inc., has seen explosive growth and expansion by focusing on quality and consistency. Led by President William Isaias, the family-owned manufacturer of tortillas, has grown from a handful of employees to a $23 Million company powered by a workforce of nearly 150 employees. Isaias, who grew up in Ecuador, South America, and spent his summers in Miami, shared the journey and what he anticipates for the future of Easy Foods.
"The company was originally founded by my father and his two brothers," Isaias said. "They bought a company that was shutting down. They started off buying tortillas from another company and utilized private label manufacturing. In 2008, shortly after I came on board, we made the decision to start manufacturing our own products. We opened our first production center in Miami."
According to Isaias, buying tortillas is more complicated and delicate than you'd expect. The impetus for going into manufacturing was a lack of consistency and quality. Simply buying the product, and not having a part in the production, led to many issues Easy Foods was unwilling to accept. Once the focus was squarely on manufacturing, Isaias and team were committed to staying in their lanes and doing what they do best.
"We're a manufacturer," he said. "That's what we know, so that's what we focus on. As a Safe Quality Food (SQF) Facility, we go above and beyond by concentrating on freshness, food safety, specific quality measures, taking extra steps in production to avoid issues and by only using great distributors. We don't deliver our products, but we do have an amazing team of sales reps that support our distributors. As a result, we maintain great relationships with our distributors. They know we're not taking business from them. They also have the benefit of easy access to our sales reps. Internally, we don't have a lot of layers for our sales reps. If a request comes in from a customer, the reps come right to me. There are no multiple levels or bureaucracy to deal with. As a result, we get things done fast."
Perhaps another element of Easy Foods success is their tight knit culture. They were close when they started the company and, they remain committed to their employees and ensuring everyone is on-board with company objectives.
"We constantly stress to our team members that every single bag of tortillas represents us," Isaias said. "We either all swim in the same direction or we're going to sink. I believe our culture is what makes us better than some of the billion-dollar companies we're competing against. As management, we're on the floor all the time. We're face to face with our production team. If someone is sick, I'll jump in there and run production. By doing so, people buy into what we're trying to do. In regard to the management team and office staff, we don't have set schedules or specific times to come in. Instead, we focus on results. Some people will come in and work on a Saturday and take Friday off. We're perfectly okay with that. We also focus on hiring young, energetic and friendly managers. Everyone is approachable and easy to talk to. It's a real family environment."
Easy Foods Moves to Kissimmee
"We found the perfect spot in Kissimmee," Isaias said. "It's the ideal size, it's situated on an industrial park with easy access to major highways and it's rail served. We hired almost 150 new employees overnight and even worked to bring some employees with us. The transition started in May with two lines added in June and two more in early August. We expect the entire process to be completed by the end of October."
Future goals including building a second facility and expanding their footprint throughout the country. Easy Foods is also committed to growing and evolving within the industry. To that end, Isaias wants to remain in-front of customer demands, such as trends towards reducing preservatives, and not behind them. In three years, the goal is to have over 200 employees. Five years from now, they'd like to have a workforce of 330 to 350.
What it Means to be a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
To say William Isaias and his team at Easy Foods have been busy this summer and fall is a massive understatement. In addition to relocating their headquarters, they were recently recognized by GrowFL as a Florida Companies to Watch honoree. Florida Companies to Watch celebrates growing second-stage companies headquartered in Florida that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes, making them “worth watching.” Isaias shared what it means to be a Florida Companies to Watch honoree and why he believes Easy Foods was selected.
"The owners are proud and happy that we were selected," he said. "We were right in the middle of our transition and spoke about the honor during a meeting. Everyone clapped, and they were happy to hear about it. The core group that came from the old company and built Easy Foods from the ground up had mixed emotions, but they were happy too. Personally, I'm speechless. I filled out the application thinking we had nothing to lose. To be selected is an amazing honor.
"In terms of why we were selected, I think it has a lot to do with everything I've already mentioned. Our steadfast focus on quality and consistency, our open-door management policy and belief that we're a family, our accomplishments and even something I haven't mentioned which is our philanthropic activities of donating food, doing pink tortillas for breast cancer awareness and donating a portion of the proceeds."
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
What advice does Isaias have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "It's important to work hard, but it's even more important to work smart," he said. "For me, and really for the rest of the team, our big advantage is understanding everything about the company. We've done many of the jobs and have worn multiple hats. That's a good thing for anyone. You can't pass along and delegate tasks unless you understand it yourself. You have to know what's feasible and what's not. You have to live it to understand it. Lastly, if you really want it, you just have to go for it!"