Juana’s dream of building a family business became more feasible as the children grew older. In 1977, after two years of planning, we rented a room in a building in The Heights district of Hood River. With the older family members still holding down full time jobs, we made tortillas at night.
With no money and no credit to start the operation, the dream was still pursued, confident the product we were making would fill a market need. As the business grew, family members gradually gave up their other jobs to work full time for Juanita’s Tortilla Factory.
Our first tortilla making machine, affectionately referred to as the “Model T Ford” in the business, has been replaced since by the “Cadillac”, a stainless steel, computerized version.
To obtain our special masa mix, we drove a family van to a flour factory in Madera, California. making a twelve hour drive to pick up the sixty 50 pound bags of masa (all the van would hold); seeing truck load of Corn Masa we wondered how anyone could make that many tortillas. “Just keep at it,” we were told “and some day you’ll make it.” The sixty bags of masa mix would supply the family business for two months in those days.
These days we utilize over 30,000 bags a year, and Juanita’s buys masa by the truckload just like those tractor-trailer rigs we saw back when we were picking up six bags every two months!