Amigos Foods: Supplying Fresh and Innovative Tex-Mex Cuisine

Amigos Foods (Amigos) is a Tex-Mex foods processor located in San Antonio, Texas, that has been in operation since 1925. The company started as a small canning business with a small tortilla manufacturing operation, but has grown its product line to include beans, salsas, sauces, taco shells and kits, dips and hummus. In 2001 Durrset Properties LLC – the venture of William Durrill and Jerry Setliff – purchased the company, which has been maintained as a family business. Amigos takes pride in using fresh produce, with peppers and beans sourced directly from the family farm whenever possible.

The company is owned in part by Jerry Setliff and is managed by his son-in-law, Clint McNew. The vision when Amigos was purchased was to expand the operation to serve national and international markets. Originally a local supplier, Amigos products now can be found all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and overseas. The company strives to serve as a one-stop shop for Tex-Mex foods manufacturing for private labels, including an impressive variety of hot filled sauces, canned products and fried corn products.

A Family Investment

The ownership group is deeply invested in Amigos. “Our phones are on 24/7 … it’s not our management style to be removed from the operations,” says Clint.

Amigos has three plants currently, all in San Antonio, with the company’s latest production facility acquisition being the largest. The square footage for all three totals around 235,000, but the company is planning to consolidate. Amigos operates a tight production schedule running day and night shifts six days per week and is facing increasing demand, so the company wants to put all of its 120 employees under one roof to make operations more efficient. Personnel often work in multiple divisions and an overlap in duties can be smoothed out with all of Amigos’ employees in one central hub.

The company has plans to increase production capabilities in 2013 or 2014, reinforcing its standard of quality and natural ingredients. “We try to be as close to authentic flavors as possible and use little to no preservatives in our products,” explains Clint. “Everyone says they strive to use the highest quality ingredients, but we make it a point because it really does make a difference in the finished product.” It’s an effective strategy, as Amigos’ specialty foods consistently rate higher than the competition in taste tests. “We don’t cut corners,” reinforces Clint.

Additionally, Amigos strives to produce both a low-cost and health-conscious product. In the last half-decade alone, Amigos has quadrupled in size thanks to the response to its thoughtful efforts. Research and development is a huge factor in producing innovative foods, and the company is constantly developing low-cost gourmet options, especially for salsas and other dips. Tasty fresh ingredients for these lines include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a wide variety of beans.

Aside from its efforts to present compelling flavors, Amigos is looking to purchase additional equipment to produce more food in less time. The company currently uses a still retort system. This system works well for products like beans and dips. However, Amigos wants to start utilizing rotary retorts, which are more suitable for liquids so the company can produce beverages, protein drinks and additional sauces.

Passing on Value from the Fields to Your Table

While many manufacturers have suffered throughout the recent recession, Amigos reports the polar opposite. “In reality, the tough economy has proven beneficial for Amigos,” explains Clint. “We produce family-friendly, fast, inexpensive food.” When times are tough, consumers have a tendency to return to basics, which in the food sector means cooking at home. Some companies are taking advantage of recent situations, but even while Amigos has found that certain factors in the economy occasionally necessitate price increases Clint confirms the company will not be involved in price gouging. Increased demand for the company’s products has allowed Amigos to continue passing private-label value along to customers.

The company’s production has increased so much, despite the economy’s challenges, that Amigos can hardly keep up despite 85 percent of its personnel being allocated along the production line. The company keeps a lean administrative staff, though it is exploring taking on a larger marketing team to assure its presence in expanding markets.

The company’s largest hurdle is not the economy, but rather it is the environment. Global warming has thrown a wrench in agricultural production, especially in already hot climates like Texas and Mexico. Amigos uses an estimated 4 million to 5 million pounds of beans every year. Because of changing conditions in farmers’ fields, the company has seen a 40-percent increase in the price of dry beans over a period of six months.

For over 85 years, Amigos has maintained innovative product lines that help people enjoy affordable, delicious meals. The company is personally invested in its products, as it owns the farms, grain elevators, production and packaging plants and the distribution systems that it utilizes. Amigos currently produces over 100 different products. The company’s product offering and position as a one-stop shop allows its clients to capitalize on its long-established logistical efficiencies. Amigos Foods will continue to steadily expand with the support of its strategic vertical production capacities, its emphasis on quality control and customer service, and its knowledge of satisfying, time-honored Tex-Mex cuisine.