Tricar Sales can trace its history back to 1945 when Daniel Cardenas Mora, a surgeon, joined forces with a handful of his colleagues to establish a small farming operation in the valley of Culiacán in northwest Mexico. Five years later, his son, Daniel Cardenas Izabal, joined him after completing his studies in agriculture. The father and son along with business partner Alfredo Tribolet launched a successive agricultural business, forming the Tricar label.
In 1952, the family opened its first U.S. operations in Nogales, Arizona, and began to build a presence within the country. This was the early incarnation of Tricar as it operates today – as a leading grower-shipper managing movement and sales of produce between the neighboring countries.
Tricar has grown steadily over the years through vertical integration and taking advantage of state-of-the-art technology. With modern infrastructure including mechanized packaging, high-tech workshop areas and efficient cooling facilities, the company is able to serve a broad and dynamic, national market of grocery retail and food service customers, both through direct sale and through distributors.
A family of integrated operations
Today, Daniel Cardenas Cevallos runs operations in Mexico. He has been with the business since 1987. His brother, Juan Carlos Cardenas Cevallos, leads U.S. operations. Juan joined the family business in 1996 as vice president and has taken an active role in building a strong product line and fostering relationships with a broader customer base. In its current form, Tricar is thriving with a reputation for quality produce and reliable service.
The business sources 70 percent of products from it’s cobranded operations in Mexico and the other 30 percent from farms owned and operated by family members. Over the years, Tricar has remained up-to-date on growing technology, phasing from traditional soil-grown produce to more than 90 percent greenhouse-grown produce over the course of the last 65 years.
“We have always strived to remain at the forefront of the industry,” says Juan. “That has led to our company adapting to new growing techniques in order to improve efficiency and maintain quality. When we first began growing produce, it was all in the soil. We later moved to poles, then drip irrigation in the 1980s and transitioned to greenhouse growing in the 1990s.”
Tricar’s produce offering is focused on three key products: bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Rod Sbragia, director of sales and marketing, has been with the business for nearly five years and has witnessed firsthand the company’s flexibility in catering to the needs of customers.
“Over the last five years, our product mix has changed a little,” says Rod. “We used to grow round tomatoes though we have consolidated to focus on mostly Roma and some grape tomatoes. We haven’t had any major changes with cucumbers or bell peppers, although we have seen an increase in volume due to increased demand from our customers.”
The Tricar team is consistently evaluating its product mix and developing the line based on requests from customers. The company is currently in the process of introducing a mini sweet bell pepper program, marketing bagged mini sweet bell peppers. The program launched in 2014 and continues to grow due to increased demand in the retail and food service sectors. While the business maintains flexibility in order to best serve the market, Rod notes that Tricar will never deviate too far from what customers have come to expect.
“Over the next few years our goal is to maintain steady growth and keep servicing the needs of our customers while providing safe, high-quality products,” says Juan. “We also focus on social responsibility, on which we are working at our ranch in Mexico with few programs, including educational work and therapy for children as well as trying to expand awareness to our community.”
On Daniel Cardenas Farm, the agricultural operation Juan’s brother runs in Mexico, people take priority. Every employee is important in the Tricar family of companies. From the first stages of employment, workers are provided with the necessary documentation to begin work, as well as an overview of the fields where they will be working.
Family values are of upmost importance and Tricar’s agricultural operations ensure that employees and their families have safe, comfortable accommodations and transportation. Child care during the workday is guaranteed. The family’s Porvenir Community Program helps children grow up in a setting that boosts education, wellness, spirituality and opportunity.
Few companies compare to Tricar in terms of dedication to employees and their families. By fostering a positive work environment, the company encourages teamwork, thus improving efficiency and keeping employee turnover low. These factors combine with Tricar Sales’ commitment to quality, food safety and service to make the business a desirable partner for procuring produce.