U.S. Manufacturing

Ruiz Foods: Building Burritos and Communities Since 1964

The smell of red chili always floods me with warm memories.

For many years in my childhood, it was the smell of my dad coming home to dinner from a long day at work, and going back to prepare for the next day even after we ate.

In a family business, everybody works – all the time. I grew up surrounded by the business my father and grandfather created: Ruiz Food Products, Inc.

In 1964, my grandfather, Louis Ruiz, had the idea to sell frozen Mexican food based on recipes of my Grandma Rosie. My dad, Fred, joined him, and from then on, the family business became an important part of our daily lives. To keep the kids busy, my parents gave us small jobs around the factory, like scooping ingredients or helping put stickers on the finished packages.

Today, our small family business has grown into three brand names: El Monterey, Tornados and Three Bold Brothers. I’m so incredibly proud of how far we’ve come. My grandfather moved to the United States from Mexico, and he started and failed at many things before he and my father came together.

In 1990, we started working with another company with humble roots. Walmart had just begun putting freezers in their stores, and my dad thought it would be smart to try and get involved with what they had going on – he was right. Ruiz Foods has grown from a father and son team betting on Grandma Rosie’s recipes to a company with nearly 3,600 team members and manufacturing facilities in California, Texas and South Carolina.

Being able to work so that you can support your family or dreams in a country you call home is a blessing. Every day, I’m thankful that the people I love have that opportunity, and I feel just as much pride that what we’ve accomplished has provided for so many of our neighbors in the community.

Even stronger than the memory of red chili on my dad’s shirt are the values our company is built upon. My father has a tremendous heart, and from him I learned the responsibility – the proud obligation – that we have to our community both as a family, and as a business. We’ve built community engagement into the foundation of everything we do, from encouraging volunteerism with Ruiz Cares to providing young students with college scholarships through Ruiz 4 Kids.

As a family business, our focus is long-term. Whether we’re finding new ways to support other U.S. manufacturers, or helping a student get their college education, we can see how the decisions we make now will impact our people 30 years from now. And that’s something to be proud of.

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Why Smarter Inventory Means Better Customer Service

When you’re getting ready to head to Walmart, you expect everything on your list will be ready and waiting on our shelves.

With millions of items for sale, ensuring that happens – for everything, every time – is quite a complex process behind the scenes.

Managing back room inventory – products that are stored in back rooms for days, sometimes weeks, before they reach shelves – can be a challenge. It requires constant monitoring, and can sometimes take associates away from the sales floor where they would otherwise be helping customers. So recently we’ve been experimenting with new and better ways to improve the process for everyone.

Top Stock is one of these new systems that we’re testing in stores. With it, we’ve moved a great deal of our back stock inventory to somewhere else very simple: the top shelves on our sales floor. By keeping additional merchandise closer to where it’s sold, we can maintain fuller shelves while keeping a better in-the-moment read on inventory.

I spent the first 12 years of my three decades with Walmart in replenishment and supply chain roles, so I understand the significance firsthand of how this makes storage and stocking so much easier. But there’s also quite a bit more that directly benefits customers:

  • All the extra space we’re opening up in our back rooms is making it easier for us to integrate services like online grocery pickup. While the demand for grocery pickup is obvious, finding adequate space within our existing stores had sometimes been a challenge.
  • Need something you don’t immediately see on the shelf? Waiting for an associate to check our back room during peak holiday shopping periods could soon be a thing of the past. By improving our inventory management processes, we’re bringing the products and services that customers need one step closer. In fact, the implementation of Top Stock has helped reduce our rental of temporary inventory trailers to a small fraction of what it was just a few years ago.
  • Our improvements in inventory management are getting more associates out of the back room and onto the sales floor, where they can help and interact with customers.
  • Perhaps best of all, our associates can use open back room space for career-building education. When one store in Morrisville, North Carolina, implemented Top Stock inventory management, they reduced back room inventory by 75% in two months, allowing enough new space to open an Academy for associate training.

What’s worked for our business in the past isn’t always what’s best for today’s shopper. When we commit to coming up with unexpected ways to do the small things better, we not only become smarter and more efficient, but create a big win for our customers at the same time.

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U.S. Manufacturing

In the News: Inside Our Open Call for American Manufacturing

Shrimp, hair gel, sweet potato cake.

Forbes sent a film crew to Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas, to capture the excitement as suppliers pitched these and hundreds of other products at our annual U.S. Manufacturing Open Call event.

Forbes shared its inside look today. Take a look at what the big day is like for the people behind the products.

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Uncovering How We’ll Shop in the Future

As new technology brings new possibilities, there’s been an explosion of ways to shop – smartphone apps, online grocery shopping and Scan & Go for easier checkout, to name just a few. To serve customers better, we need to stay ahead of the research that helps form the ideas that will continue to revolutionize how we shop.

I’m part of a small team that’s delving deep into research to improve the shopping experience for everyone. I’m a data scientist for Sam’s Club Technology, and I like to compare what we do to building a car: You have to start with the engine.

My day-to-day work is all about staying on top of new methods to build that engine. I look at ways we can incorporate emerging research in object recognition, detection and segmentation – technology that can make things like our Scan & Go app even smarter. For instance, instead of scanning a bar code, the app will be able to recognize products using photos taken by your phone’s camera.

Because this is such a fast-moving field, the research I work with is in its earliest stages. I might work with one algorithm today, and a couple months from now use a completely new model that’s even better than what we had before.

Tech is constantly evolving, which makes innovation essential for retailers. We have to continually adapt our business to our shoppers’ lifestyles. There’s a lot of coding, engineering and algorithm testing that goes into building something that works better than what people are used to. It’s challenging, but that’s why I’m lucky to work with such talented people.

Until I joined the team last year, I never realized the strong sense of pride that associates in the Walmart and Sam’s Club family have in what our business does. After studying at Yale, I worked in financial engineering in New York – I didn’t expect to find an opportunity to do such innovative work in Bentonville, Arkansas.

I’ve found that in the corporate world, it’s rare for a business to invest in cutting-edge research. But, from the start, Walmart has chosen to invent some of our own solutions instead of waiting for someone else to come up with them. In this new age of tech, we’re still evolving and inventing better ways to get from Point A to Point C.

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5 Ways Walmart Uses Big Data to Help Customers

In many industries, big data provides a way for companies to gain a better understanding of their customers and make better business decisions.

Walmart relies on big data to get a real-time view of the workflow in the pharmacy, distribution centers and throughout our stores and e-commerce.

Check out the infographic below to see how Walmart uses big data to make the company’s operations more efficient and improve the lives of customers.

Whether it’s analyzing the transportation route for a supply chain or using data to optimize pricing, big data analytics will continue to be a key way for Walmart to enhance the customer experience.

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