Miguel González Reynoso laughs, remembering the anecdotes when he began with his father and his other 12 brothers to work in the grocery store business 40 years ago. They have learned from mistakes to improve and grow; preserving Hispanic traditions and their family values have made Northgate González Market one of the largest and most successful Hispanic supermarket chains in the U.S.
“There have been those moments, like when we just started and without knowing anything about the business, we tried to do what we thought was right. For example, we froze the meat and then with the saw we cut the steaks and doing that is a mortal sin,” recalls Miguel González Reynoso, co-president of Northgate González Market, who spoke with Abasto about the Hispanic supermarket chain 40th anniversary.
On January 2nd, 1980, in Anaheim, California, the history of the supermarket chain began. Don Miguel González and his son Miguel González Reynoso bought a liquor store called Northgate, which they later expanded to become a grocery store. The 13 children of Don Miguel and Doña Teresa Reynoso helped in the store that gradually grew.
According to González Reynoso, something that was important for Northgate González was to find a good legal advisor so that the business could develop properly. “In 1986, we found a “Licenciado” who was more than that because he served as an advisor, an older brother, taking care of us to do things properly so we could have a company that would last many years.”
“Sometimes one is more interested in how to pay fewer taxes than in growing the business and the Licenciado told us that he was not going to help us to deceive the government but to pay what was right. That would give us the right to continue growing the company. I think that was a perfect base for our company,” said González Reynoso.
When the family patriarch, Miguel González Jiménez, passed away in 1999, his widow and his children discovered that for many years don Miguel had been financially helping many people who had difficulties. To honor his memory, the family decided to continue that mission and created the González Reynoso Foundation, which donates tens of thousands of dollars each year in scholarships for minority students and other charitable causes.
Another critical moment in the history of Northgate González Market, according to the company’s co-president, was when Oscar, the younger brother, ten years after finishing high school, already married and with children, decided to study at Pepperdine University.
“He graduated with an MBA and returned with more professional ideas, contacts, and marked a line in business growth. There we began to lay the foundations to grow the company, appointing a CFO, a human resources director, a real state director, a warehouse manager,” said González Reynoso.
Currently, 36 members of the González family work in the Hispanic supermarket chain and the third generation is already occupying leadership positions, contributing new ideas and concepts that will help the company to continue innovating in the new decade of 2020.
Continuing with the anecdotes of the 40-year history of Northgate González Market, González Reynoso also stressed that not even the economic crisis of 2008 slowed the growth of the family business, although sometimes for more precautions taken, things can go wrong.
“In 2009, when the economy was very bad, we moved to a new distribution center. Although for six months we had tested the systems, when we moved, everything resulted in chaos because we could not take out or receive the merchandise because the systems did not work. We had to do everything manually and it took us almost three weeks to solve the problem,” González Reynoso said.
Northgate González Market History Photo Gallery
Now with 41 supermarkets located in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside counties, and six thousand employees, the González Reynoso family has dedicated themselves to remodeling their stores, implementing the concept of offering prepared meals, having more high-quality fresh produce, always maintaining the idea of nostalgia with products imported from Latin American countries.
The dream of González Reynoso is for the family business to become the best company to work for. As part of that effort, in 2014, they visited the Wegmans supermarket chain to learn firsthand what they are doing to be an ideal place to work.
While they continue working on that purpose, Northgate González Market also continues with its expansion plans in California. In the next five years, the Hispanic supermarket chain plans to open another ten grocery stores, and with new technology available, they will continue to innovate to offer their customers the best service and superior quality food products.
The company will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with several programs for its customers and the communities where supermarkets are located. Also, throughout the year, the owners of Northgate González Market will be surprising customers by paying for their groceries at the cash register.