Chips Ahoy

A Mexican food company develops a packaging technology to expand its reach.


la familia: Daniel Gutierrez, president of Mexican Food Specialties, says he is proud to carry on the family business that began with his great-grandfather, Raphael Gutierrez. The company is expanding the distribution of its products to other states outside the Midwest. 

Daniel Gutierrez, president of Mexican Food Specialties Inc. in Livonia, has spent the last 18 months refining the Holy Grail of fresh tortillas — targeting a shelf life of up to 30 days.

Soon to be introduced across the Midwest under the company’s Don Marcos product line, the longer-lasting tortillas will be a boon to the company’s 2,000 distribution points — including restaurants like Barrio Cocina Y Tequileria in downtown Plymouth — as well as serving as a springboard to customers beyond the Midwest.  

“We’re in the process of reinventing our entire line of products with a focus on natural ingredients and new packaging techniques,” says Gutierrez, 30, whose late father, Mark Gutierrez, launched the company in 1981. “We were primarily a tortilla company in the beginning, but now we skew (distribute) hundreds of products to restaurants, local food markets, supermarkets, and stores like Wal-Mart.”

In addition to using natural ingredients, Gutierrez says extending the shelf life of tortillas involved the development of a special, proprietary film that lines the inside of the bags. He also utilizied innovative packaging technology to lower the amount of internal oxygen tortillas are exposed to, among other innovations.

The company’s Don Marcos tortilla chips will also get a boost with new craft-style packaging. Gutierrez says all of the company’s products come from a plant in Chicago where everything is made, packaged, and shipped within 24 hours.

“We source everything from (America’s) Corn Belt, and we only use certified, non-GMO corn,” he adds. “Our salt is sea salt, which is better for you and is more flavorful, and our chips are thinner so they’re easier to bite into than thicker chips.”

Along with its tortillas, the company offers an assortment of rice and bean products; bulk spices like ground coriander, chili powder, and taco seasoning; and salsas, sauces, cheeses, jalapeno peppers, nuts, and pre-cut tortilla chips. Besides selling its goods in Michigan, the company distributes its products to customers in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Gutierrez, who mainly works at the company’s distribution center in Livonia, got his start in the business at the age of 12. “I was going out on delivery routes during the summer and cleaning out the trucks,” he says. “After college I got into finance, then wholesale lending, then retail lending. I also had a painting company when I was 17 years old.” 

Gutierrez rejoined Mexican Food Specialties in 2009, and says he’s proud to carry on a family legacy in the tortilla business that began with his great-grandfather, Raphael Gutierrez. “We’ve all set the bar higher for the next generation, so now everything is on me to take the business to the next level.”

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Horse Sense

Horseback riding therapy goes digital with new technology from Pittsfield Township's Therapeutic Riding Inc.

Camp Wellness

Nonprofit summer camp in Pinckney has big goals for the next couple of years.

Back from the Dead

Battery Solutions in Howell recycles spent batteries with startling efficiency.

Friend Robot

For the next three years, the hugely popular FIRST Robotics competition will be held in Detroit.

Lead Right

A former boxer retires to pursue his main event in the corporate staffing industry.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. BravoBravo! Fundraiser Returns to Detroit Opera House
    BravoBravo!, a black-tie gala fundraiser for capital improvements at the Detroit Opera House,...
  2. Blog: More Companies Should use Rotational Programs to Attract Talent, Provide Opportunity
    College seniors across the country have graduated from their respective schools and have become...
  3. Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital Recognized for Pulmonary Fibrosis Expertise
    Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has received a national designation recognizing its expertise in...
  4. Chicago-based Audit, Tax, and Consulting Firm RSM US LLP Opens Detroit Office
    RSM US LLP, a Chicago-based provider of audit, tax, and consulting services, Friday announced the...
  5. Prince Concepts Details Plans for Major Mixed-use Development on Detroit’s West Side
    Prince Concepts, which owns the popular restaurant TAKOI and built the True North mixed-use...
  6. Report: Boat Sales at a 10-year High, Michigan Sales Third Highest in Nation
    Data released today by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) in Chicago show total...