Business Spotlight: Tortilleria El Sol on How Their Unique Business Model has Led to their Success
Tortilleria El Sol, a small, family-owned tortilla factory and retail shop, nestled on the corner of S 13th St & Morgan Ave, has been making and selling authentic Mexican tortillas, chips, and salsa since 2003. Stacy & Leif sat down for a conversation with owners, Ambrocio & Danny Chairez to hear about Tortilleria El Sol and how it has grown and evolved from selling out of the back of a pick-up truck, 20 years ago.
Tortilleria El Sol has a unique business model. From the beginning, they decided to keep their business debt to a minimum. “One of the reasons that we’re still here is because we never took out a bank loan. That’s why we’re continuously growing and have been able to add things to our repertoire, because we’re paying absolutely no interest at all” says Ambrocio. It was a slower process for them, but it was worth all of the struggles and hard work in the end. Here is Abrocio’s advice to an aspiring business owner: “A lot of people get scared, and think ‘I don’t want to invest my money.’ But, if you know what you’re doing and you’re committed and confident in your product, I think you can really pull it off.”
They continue to expand and grow their business, and are constantly working on new projects that will help to establish and strengthen the Tortilleria El Sol brand in the Milwaukee market and beyond. They have a few new projects currently in the mix that we will continue to update you on as they develop.
One of the great things about their business is that they never had to spend a dime on marketing or advertising. “We just opened the door and people came in” says Ambrocio. All of their business has been generated strictly through word of mouth. Tortilleria El Sol takes advantage of opportunities to donate food to charity events; it allows them to put their name out there, give back to the community, and let people try their products.
Another thing that sets Tortilleria El Sol apart from major companies, is their dedication and commitment to providing quality, fresh tortillas. “I will never sell a tortilla that is one day old. If we run out, we run out. All of the tortillas that people buy from us are fresh” says Ambrocio. Their products may be a bit pricier, but the quality is there, and all of their foods are natural and made with no preservatives. Their customers know exactly what they’re getting; they can see the tortillas being made, right in front of them.
Because of Tortilleria El Sol’s uniqueness, people in the Milwaukee area, as well as Waukegan, Janesville, Madison, Green Bay, Sheboygan, etc. come in to stock up on their tortillas every week. One customer comes in every week to buy tortillas that he will ship off to his family in South Korea! Some customers stumble across the tortilla shop while shopping in the surrounding area, which has been growing with the business. “Since we’ve been out here, the street has just been evolving. It’s a lot busier, there’s a lot more foot traffic” says Danny. Others hear about Tortilleria El Sol through charity events or simple word of mouth. No matter, how they heard, people are constantly coming and going. Tortilleria El Sol also supplies tortillas for a number of local Milwaukee restaurants, including: Harbor House, La Fuente, Bel Air Cantina, Saz’s, etc.
Because Ambrocio & Danny have stayed true to themselves and their core, old-school business principles, Tortilleria El Sol has experienced phenomenal success in the Milwaukee area and beyond, which has allowed them to continue to expand and grow their product line.