Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on April 8th, 2014

Miguel Gonzalez Reynoso: From struggling U.S. immigrant to co-founder of a successful supermarket chain.

63 year old Miguel is co-president of Anaheim, California based Northgate Gonzales Markets, a family owned 38 store supermarket chain with $700 million in annual sales and 5,000 employees.

This success is a result of opening stores in areas some giant supermarket chains avoid, such as South Central Los Angeles, and then offering customers top caliber service and quality, which many of those customers don't often receive.

But Miguel understands his customers, having long lived among them.

Miguel Gonzalez Reynoso
Miguel Gonzalez Reynoso

In 1968, Miguel and his family came to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico after the closure of the shoe factory his father operated.

For the next 11 years, Miguel and his father worked for others to support the family.

But in 1979, when Miguel was 30, his father told him that if ever they were going to do something big, it had to be now because at 53, this could be his last chance.

They planned to buy an apartment building, but the real estate agent offered a better alternative. In Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, an old grocery store known as "Northgate" had been closed for over a year.

The owners wanted to unload this 2500 square foot building and had slashed the price by 40%.

The Gonzalez family risked their savings to buy the building, and learned the grocery business by trial and error, working long hours to make it a success.

Because they originally couldn't afford to replace the Northgate sign, they added Gonzales to it.

"We came to think of Northgate as the door of opportunity for us, coming from the south," Miguel told the Los Angeles Times. "For us, it has a big meaning."

Thereafter, they opened one store after the next, but only after each store became profitable.

Northgate Gonzales Markets has become so successful, that in 2012 First Lady Michelle Obama visited one of their stores, referring to the chain as an excellent example of a retailer offering low-income communities healthful foods.

But the chain is also an excellent source of jobs in those low-income communities, and offers its employees 401-k plans and matching contributions, college scholarships and English language lessons.

With the success of their supermarkets, the family formed the Gonzales Reynoso Family Foundation "...to continue our support of our community and our heritage by focusing our efforts to help those in need."

The Foundation does this by donating money to improve local schools, and contributing as well to neighborhood sports facilities and teams. During the holidays it donates to families in need.

It also helps support Kids for Hope and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In Mexico, it helps various orphanages and convalescent homes.

Northgate Gonzales is a remarkable success story, of benefit to many thousands of people and a blessing to the family that risked everything it owned to start and build it.

Success Tip of the Week: When one has the courage to act, as the Gonzales family did, dreams can come true.

Editor's Note: To learn more http://www.northgatemarkets.com/ and http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/26/business.., the latter of which was the primary source for this story.

In the next KazanToday: A writer who rose from crushing rejection to winning a Pulitzer Prize.

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