One of the largest minority-owned companies in the U.S., Lopez Foods, marked 20 years in business this summer.
In those two decades, the Oklahoma City-based meat-processing company has grown from 300 workers to 1,000 and has expanded its operations to include two additional facilities in Ponca City and Caryville, Tenn.
John P. Lopez, vice president of operations, said each product category has grown since his father, John C. Lopez, purchased Wilson Foods in 1992 and changed the name to Lopez Foods.
The company is now the largest Hispanic-owned meat processing company and 10th largest minority-owned company in the United States.
“Diversity is extremely important to us. But we are a meat company first and foremost,” Lopez said.
Lopez Foods produces 120 million pounds of product per year, including fully cooked breakfast sausage patties, hamburger patties and Canadian bacon sold at Walmart, McDonald's, Sam's Club, Costco, Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts, among other retailers. It is one of two suppliers for the McDonald's McRib sandwich; the Dorada Foods plant in Ponca City, a collaboration between Lopez Foods and Tyson, produces chicken nuggets and crispy chicken breasts for McDonald's.
“We tell our employees every day that we feed the world, and we're very proud of it. But at the same time, our children eat the products we make, so we make the highest quality products possible,” Lopez said.
Lopez Foods already exports to Japan and Korea, and Lopez said the company wants to continue its international growth. It also is focusing on environmental initiatives, including becoming “zero landfill” by 2020.
Diversity is the key ingredient to the company's success and creates a family atmosphere among workers, Lopez said.
“That's what being diverse is all about: embracing the differences that make everybody so unique and special. That, to me, is what makes our workforce so great,” he said.