We Americans tend to obsess over size. We revel in Big Data. Big Brother is watching. Theodore Roosevelt advised, “Speak softly and carry a Big Stick.” If you get that corner office, you might be the Big Cheese and have hit the Big Time. Ed Sullivan always had “A really Big Show.” The quintessential American city, New York, is the Big Apple. Of course, Everything’s Bigger in Texas. And (alas) some people love to take swipes at Big Food.
But it’s at the other end of the spectrum—everything small—where we find the heart of American ingenuity. The U.S. is home to nearly 29 million small businesses, accounting for nearly 50 percent of our workforce. America loves the successful entrepreneur who starts small, risking everything on a dream. And it’s often those small, upstart companies that challenge the status quo with true innovation. Even many of the largest snack and bakery businesses today can trace their roots back to a day when inspiration struck and a career path revealed itself.
Family businesses are the cornerstone of the snack and bakery industry. Throughout the year, I travel across this great land and hear the stories of family businesses—their origins, challenges and growth through the years, stories of passion, grit and determination. Bringing these stories to the world is a truly rewarding part of my job, and I’m honored by the accommodating, trusting welcome I’m invariably given.
One such story graces our cover this month. La Tortilla Factory began with a couple’s dream of running their own business. They got their start by cranking out fresh corn tortillas with their sons on a single machine in the back room of their restaurant, a taquería that they dubbed a “Mexicatessen.” This story continues today, four decades later, with the founding couple’s grandchildren now helping run the business—one that now is highly automated and capable of producing a million tortillas a day.
Great ideas, when nurtured with care and keen business sense, love to grow.