LAS VEGAS — Three longtime tortilla innovators were inducted into the Tortilla Industry Association (T.I.A.) Hall of Fame at an awards banquet May 1 at the T.I.A. Convention and Trade Expo in Las Vegas.
The first inductee was Roberto Gonzalez Barrera, founder of Gruma (Azteca Milling and Mission Foods). Mr. Barrera also served as the chairman of the board of directors of Gruma, as well as the chairman of Grupo Financiero Banorte. He is considered one of the leading pioneers of the Mexican corn meal industry and one of the foremost promoters of tortilla consumption worldwide.
Mr. Barrera passed away in 2012, and the award was accepted by his son, Juan Barrera, who is the current chief executive officer and chairman of Gruma.
“I can tell you that Roberto was a great man, businessman, worker and visionary,” Juan Barrera said. “When I was a boy, I remember that on the weekends I would go with him and my grandfather to sell corn meal. He taught me the foundations of business and love for the company. He taught me that work and effort are the basis of success. I remember these things every day.”
The second inductee, John Ponce, grew up in the tortilla industry, forming and stretching tortillas by hand with his family members. In the 1980s, he accepted a sales position with Casa Herrera, Pomona, Calif., eventually settling at the J.C. Ford Co., La Habra, Calif., where he continues to work providing customers with tortilla manufacturing equipment. Mr. Ponce recently was elected to two terms on the TIA board of directors.
The third member elected to the T.I.A. Hall of Fame was Gustavo Gutierrez, president and c.e.o. of Tortillas, Inc., Las Vegas. A second-generation leader of the company, Mr. Gutierrez has worked in every facet of the tortilla business. Not only did he serve two terms on the TIA board of directors, but he also served as board chairman. He was highly influential in the growth of the organization and coined the phrase “share the passion and the profits” for the organization.Created in 1989, T.I.A. is a non-profit organization headquartered in Arlington, Va., whose members include tortilla manufacturers, industry providers and distributors worldwide, and companies with interests in the sector, mainly in the United States.