Issue Fall 14
Founded in 1945, J.C. Ford has been there for all the ebbs and flows of the tortilla and tortilla chip industry. Today, it is a leading provider of automated equipment and service.
“The company was a dominant supplier from the 1940s through the 1960s,” President Scott Ruhe says. “We acquired it in 1990, introduced new engineering and products to home in on its strengths.”
J.C. Ford offers state-of-the-art equipment and product knowledge to an industry that is in a growth mode thanks to the increased popularity of flatbreads and tortilla chips. It is providing solutions to companies around the world, helping them solve challenges through expanded automation and product expertise.
“We initially focused on corn tortilla equipment and have expanded over time,” Ruhe says. “We have invested heavily in automation, increasing the capacity of lines, efficiency and consistency.”
Based out of an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing and design center, J.C. Ford produces equipment and solutions used for the production of corn tortillas, flour tortillas, tortilla chips, tacos/tostadas and corn cooking. Essentially, the company breaks its market down into two segments: tortillas and tortilla chips.
“On the tortilla side, there is consolidation and competition in the market, Ruhe says. “On the snack side, niche products are popping up.”
J.C. Ford has expanded its footprint over the years. When the company was acquired, it provided equipment and solutions mainly to customers in border states from California to Texas. About 30 to 40 percent of its business is now conducted with overseas clients, as European, Indian, Middle Eastern, South American and Asian markets are all presenting opportunities.
The company regularly looks to expand its capabilities and utilize the latest design software and automated machining centers to improve the reliability of its equipment. As a result, J.C. Ford is able to offer new technology to the market.
“We have improved product capacity and efficiency, and we are providing customers with solutions that give them more feedback from the equipment,” Ruhe says. “Our service and parts departments support the equipment. We can give customers the answers they are looking for.”
Some of its new solutions include an eight-row tortilla line, its Sheeter TC-1600 high-capacity corn products sheeter, the J.C. Ford Masa Mixer, automatic packaging systems and the Counter Stacker CSPS.
J.C. Ford also manufactures material-handling systems for the storage and supply of raw material used in the production of corn and flour tortillas, tortilla chips and taco/tostada shells. J.C. Ford can provide customers with used equipment options, too.
The company tries to stay close to its customers so it can respond to changing consumer tastes. It works alongside customers to develop solutions that can meet consumer needs.
Ruhe expects continued growth opportunities for J.C. Ford in the coming years. The company plans to invest in new technologies and partnerships that can continue to increase capacity and improve quality. J.C Ford plans to keep pushing automation and looking for ways to keep its advantage in this industry.
“We see the market continuing to grow domestically and internationally,” Ruhe says. “We have key people here who understand this market and this machinery, which allows us to take care of customers.”