Issue Fall 10
Not just served with Mexican food anymore, tortillas have become a mainstay for a variety of foods – from tacos to wraps. Additionally, the increased popularity of Mexican-themed restaurants has boosted the use of tortillas in almost every dish they serve – from appetizers to main dishes to desserts.
Tortillas can be rolled, sliced, baked, filled, fried and served hot or cold. A quick look at the menu of a typical Mexican-themed restaurant shows that most of the offerings include some form of flour or corn tortilla product. As this food trend continues to be popular with customers, opportunities abound for companies that provide foods in these arenas.
Meet Landes Foods and its Lobo Brand of tortilla products. Established in 2005, Landes Foods was started with a vision of offering authentic, home-style tortilla products as opposed to the “cookie-cutter” products that once dominated the market. With $24.5 million in sales and growth of 25 percent in 2009, Landes Foods apparently has found its niche.
Charging into its sixth year, Landes Foods has become well-positioned in the tortilla market as a supplier to major clients such as Ben E. Keith and Sysco. President Matt Landes couldn’t be more pleased. “My brother, Brett Landes, founded the tortilla factory six years ago,” Landes says. “Between us, we had more than 30 years experience on the manufacturing side of the food business – we expected this would be a really good growth opportunity industry. ”
Landes Foods has expanded its offerings to meet the demands of customers who are continually looking for something new. The company’s test kitchen staff works with customers to develop new items and variations to their existing product line. This has led Landes to develop new sizes of flour and corn tortilla products, wraps and private-label tortilla chips offered in the retail markets.
In 2005, Landes Foods began its operation with two production lines. Since then, it has expanded to include four flour and five corn lines, and the company plans to continue this fast-paced growth. “We still have room to add three additional production lines,” says Tommy Rowland, vice president of sales. “Within the next three years, I could see this facility’s capacity grow us an additional $11 million in sales.”
The 215,000-square-foot production facility in Dallas was completely renovated inside and out when the company first opened. Landes Foods’ state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment offers the most recent advancements in automated technology. It also earned the highest rating with its Operating Excellence Certification from Silliker Labs in Chicago, which is globally recognized for food safety auditing and credited with ensuring the highest standards of food safety and quality.
‘A Cohesive Unit’
The firm’s explosive growth has been achieved by offering a line of competitively priced, quality products and building a strong team of experienced personnel. “Our success has a lot to do with the caliber of the individuals we’ve chosen to hire,” Landes says. “Every one of our team members knows our goals, knows our products and works together as a cohesive unit. We wouldn’t be positioned where we are without the exceptional team of people we have in place.
“In 2009, we experienced our best year of sales since the inception of the company,” he continues. “Our sales grew in excess of 25 percent.”
“I think the highlight going into our sixth year has been seeing the company really come together with its people, its equipment, and the quality of our products. Additionally, I see us gaining momentum as we expand and tweak our product lines to meet our customers’ needs.”
Looking forward, Landes Foods is positioned to achieve even higher sales. It is expanding the product lines and approaching major chain restaurants, military installations, schools, captive feeding and retail outlets.
“People are looking for healthier options,” Rowland says. “We continually work with our chefs to develop innovative new products to expand our offerings of healthier foods. As a young company, when you develop products that become winners, it’s very fulfilling.”