Cleburne Chamber of Commerce honors Esteban Abascal, CEO of Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA

Young Mexican Esteban Abascal, CEO of Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA, achieved yet another feat by receiving the ‘2020 Young Business Professional Award’ at the 102nd Annual Cleburne Chamber of Commerce Community Awards ( Texas).

The prize is awarded annually by the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce to a business executive under the age of 40 who has shown leadership and commitment to the community to improve their quality of life by getting involved in local projects, civic organizations and community outreach programs.

Esteban Abascal Interamerican Foods - La Moderna USA
Esteban Abascal (left) received the award from last year’s recipient, Mark McClure (right).

“I’ve always believed that behind every successful professional, it’s not just that person who receives the award. It’s a whole team behind. So this recognition is also for my whole team. Congratulations to my managers, coordinators, to everyone who works in the company; it’s for you, ”Abascal said from the podium after receiving the award.

The Toluca, Mexico-based Mexican pasta producer opened its first plant on U.S. soil in Cleburne in 2018. Under the leadership of Abascal Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA has exceeded its targets in two years, despite the pandemic.

Among his business achievements, 33-year-old Abascal was able to build a united and strong team in all areas of the business, reviewed the company’s bottom line after two years as CEO, put the company in operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. a week at full production capacity.

It also increased the company’s net sales by $ 25 million and partnered with major retail chains to produce its private label. In the area of ​​e-commerce, the business is growing with sales through Amazon and the ingredients and foodservice market.

Under Abascal’s leadership, Interamerican Foods has always been concerned with supporting the local community, contributing to Veterans Aid programs and Operation Blessing in Johnson County.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA partnered with Railroaders to provide food to the community of Cleburne and delivered more than 1,500 boxes of food items (pasta, cookies, flour) to the Dallas Independent School District (DISD).

In collaboration with the Mexican Consulate and the Hispanic Star Association, he also supported the Hispanic community of the Metroplex.

Related article: Moderna USA Donates Food to Dallas Schools

Abascal has worked for La Moderna for 12 years and started out as an export analyst. Since then, he has demonstrated his leadership and business skills by progressing in positions such as Export Coordinator, then Manager in the United States, then became Director of Global Exports and Director of Sales in the United States.

Abasto Magazine spoke with Esteban Abascal about his goals while running the Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA Cleburne factory, his challenges during the pandemic, and his plans for the business to continue to thrive.

Abasto Magazine: It’s been a little over two years since you were appointed CEO of La Moderna USA. To what extent have you accomplished your mission to grow in the US market?

Esteban Abascal: I have always been convinced that when we achieve the goals we set for ourselves at Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA, they change again and adapt to the needs of the market, a process of constant growth. I believe that my mission within La Moderna USA is taking its first steps. I am determined to make the company one of the key players in the pasta industry in the United States; it is a long road and a lot of work. Surrounding myself with the best team is one of my priorities.

I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished in those first two and a half years as we’ve made inroads into markets we haven’t served and we’re working every day to reach more homes in the United States. But, without a doubt, we cannot achieve these achievements without alliances with business partners, advertising and marketing agencies, supplier partners and a product of the highest quality and service.

For me, the human relationship throughout the supply chain is fundamental for the growth of a company. I firmly believe that doing business is changing and that market needs and consumer habits are constantly changing. The market has become more sophisticated and the interpersonal relationships between consumers and members of a business have become closer. The new generations of Millennials and Centennials are consumers who demand closer proximity to producers and distributors and want to be aware of the whole process and its impact on the world and their daily lives.

RA: 2020 has been a critical year that has economically hit businesses of all types and sizes in the United States. How did you deal with the pandemic?

EA: One way or another, the pandemic has affected the global economy, all industries and businesses. While our (food) industry continued to operate uninterrupted for a single day throughout 2020, and our sales and operating rate even increased because people needed food to be prepared at home during in their forties, the company had to face many challenges of all kinds.

To name a few, we had to rethink our daily operations to implement all the safety and health standards that could ensure the safety and health of our employees and safe from the risk of contagion. . Other important challenges were sourcing raw materials, dealing with stress and fear of our staff, high turnover rate, supporting vulnerable and affected staff, to name a few.

I can say that after a year of the pandemic and looking back, I am proud to see how my whole team reacted and as I said to all our staff at the time: today, more than ever, we have a commitment to the society and the country, the consumers need us and we have to make sure that in a scenario of stress and hardship, we can give them the guarantee that they will not run out of food, by remembering a little of the shortage that occurred at the start of the pandemic.

One of my ideals and driving forces in life that I have shared with my team since the first day of the pandemic is: “It is in times of crisis and adversity that courage and character are forged. , giving life to true leaders. ”

RA: You told Abasto in 2019 that the biggest challenge in entering the US market was how to successfully link the brand to generations such as baby boomers and later generations such as Gen Z and Gen Y. How well did you achieve this goal?

EA: One of the challenges for Interamerican Foods – La Moderna USA, and the vast majority of companies in the food industry, is to bridge the gap between brands and consumers, especially in an ever-changing market. The consumption habits of baby boomers are different from those of millennials and centenarians.

One of the successes we have had with La Moderna USA is to give each of our brands its own identity. With this, develop a communication strategy aimed at different groups of consumers, making them feel identified with the brand and integrating it into their lifestyle. We want our pasta to be a product desired by the different generations of consumers that we have.

RA: What challenges do you face as CEO of La Moderna USA in 2021 and where would you like to go?

EA: We are in a time when we are emerging from a powerful global shock, where the CEOs of many companies would like to have a “crystal ball” on how consumers will behave in a post-pandemic world.

The biggest challenges I face today are: that our customers and consumers continue to prefer our products; to provide the best possible quality and service; may our products continue to be a moment of union and joy among our consumers; and to maintain the collaborative links we forged with our various partners during the health crisis we experienced last year.

RA: What has been the impact of your business on job creation, commerce and local progress?

EA: 7.4million pounds a month is a pasta world, and it is impossible to do it without our people who come to the factory every day to continue to strengthen the commitment to bring food into the American homes. Without a doubt, we are an important generator of jobs in the region. And I have no doubts that every day we strengthen the affection the community and Metroplex have for the company and our brands. Additionally, we increased our labor supply by over 40% during the pandemic as demand for our products required us to operate 24/7.

We have a commitment, and now more than ever, we want our customers and consumers to have the confidence that our products will not be missing on the shelves. We want to continue to be a generator of wealth for the community of Cleburne, the Metroplex area and Texas, but across the country.

Article written by journalist Patricia Ortiz.

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