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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hard work pays off for Immigrant farmer

There was a fascinating article in the Arizona Republic last weekend about Santiago Gonzalez, the CEO of 3 Amigos Tequila. The Gonzalez family has a 5000 acre farm in Jalisco, Mexico, where they grow blue agave plants, the main ingredient for their tequila. The tequila is distilled and bottled in Mexico, then distributed and marketed from their Arizona headquarters – a couple trailers on a dirt lot adjacent some farm land in El Mirage, AZ.
Santiago feels that once people taste the tequila, people will tend to buy it. Throughout Arizona, he’s negotiated placing his product in several high end grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and even US Airways Center.
For the last forty years, the Gonzalez’s have been growing the blue agave plants, but they used to sell the plants to another tequila maker. Only three years ago, Santiago decided to bottle his own liquor. The first bottle was completed last year. Since then, Santiago has been going door to door to various businesses, selling his product. His annual production is 1 million liters of tequila a year, an amount equivalent to what some distillers produce in ten days. The most expensive bottle is under $40.
Santiago’s family has farmed in Arizona for four decades. Santiago was ten years old when he started working the fields in Arizona. He grew up with five brothers, and his parents couldn’t afford sandals for Santiago to wear, so he often worked barefoot. He didn’t attend college, but feels the lack of education has been a detriment to his company startup. He will make a college education mandatory for his own children.
G farms also farms watermelons, onions, and potatoes on his property, in addition to selling cattle feed. His three boys take care of the cattle after they come home from school each day. Santiago says the children no longer have to toil for financial reasons, but he feels the work is good for them, and will help them later on in life.


Anonymous said...

He's a great dad for teaching his children the value of hard work. I'm sure their business will thrive for a long period of time.