It was also a way to validate and track the impressive strides she and her staff had made since joining the list. The Washington, D.C.-based firm has helped lead rebuilding projects in more than 60 countries.
The company has around 400 employees and offices around the world, including Afghanistan, Guatemala, Kenya, and Haiti.
It has won many multimillion-dollar contracts from the United States Agency for International Development, including a $62 million contract to rebuild schools in Iraq.
The Hispanic Business 500 has also served as a point of reference for several prospective employees seeking work at Creative Associates, Ms. Kruvant says.
"One of them, in particular, a young Hispanic woman, felt that us being recognized was important enough to share with her family."
Ruiz Foods Inc.
Ruiz Foods Inc., which now sells its wares under the brand name of El Monterey, began as a mom-and-pop shop in 1964.
Louis Ruiz, a Mexican immigrant, began making and selling frozen enchiladas out of a converted poultry plant in Tulare, California. Starting a one-man food production business was easier 40 years ago, says Fred Ruiz, Louis's son and the company's CEO. [Louis Ruiz died in March at age 88.]
"In the grocery business, for example, there were so many independent grocery stores that you could talk to enough of them to sell $500 a day and be OK. But today, you have to have a minimum of probably $10,000 to $20,000 because of the size of the customer," Fred Ruiz explains. "In today's environment, you're dealing with large [market] chains; you have to be able to handle larger volumes."
In the years since Ruiz Foods was first listed on the Hispanic Business 500®, its revenues have grown from $10 million to $326 million. And it currently ranks No. 18 on the directory.
The Hispanic Business 500, Mr. Ruiz says, has long been a valuable tool in measuring the progress of his company as well as that of others on the list.
"I like to know how we compare to other businesses. I know it helped me and it made me feel better about being successful."
Not only does being part of the Hispanic Business 500 encourage him, the directory provides a list of role models that would otherwise be lost in the crowd.
"To me, all these businesses are role models," Mr. Ruiz says. "They set a good example to Latino youth and Latino business people, it shows them that there's opportunity for them."
Tejas Office Products
It was 1961 and Lupe Fraga had just wrapped up three years in the military when he began working in a Houston firm as an accountant. He met an office supply vendor, Jim Kendig, who was eager to unload his business … for $10,000.
"He told me he was getting ready to get out of the office supply business and asked if I would be interested in buying his company," recalls Mr. Fraga, CEO of Tejas Office Products Inc. "I said, 'Yeah I'll do it.'"
The owner helped Mr. Fraga, then 26, secure a loan to buy Kendig's Office Supply, which featured one employee and very little inventory.
"I thought, 'You've got to start somewhere,'" Mr. Fraga says.
Forty-four years and a name change later, he has built Tejas Office Products into one of Houston's largest independent office supply companies despite facing steep competition from big-box retailers, such as Office Depot.
Tejas, No. 296 on the Hispanic Business 500®, has grown to more than 60 employees and 2006 revenues of $15 million. From its 25,000-square-foot warehouse, the company distributes office supplies around the country.
Mr. Fraga says he has had numerous offers to sell the family-run business [his wife, Irene, is vice-president and his son, Stephen, is president].
"I always believed when you start your own business and you put in the blood, sweat, and tears, you leave it behind for your family. You just don't sell your company and leave with a bunch of money."
Being listed in the Hispanic Business 500 is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Tejas team. "We take a lot of pride in that," Mr. Fraga says. "We also take pride in being a Hispanic-owned business."
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