When we first met Heinz Vieluf, Jr. in 2016, his family’s company, Cibao Meat, was approaching its 50th anniversary – and that wasn’t the only significant milestone to celebrate. The company had also been approved for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loan that would enable its most significant expansion in half a century.
We wanted to know more about how the business was doing in the years since receiving the loan, so we got in touch with Heinz, who enthusiastically shared Cibao Meat’s progress.
He also shared some challenges and how they’ve overcome them to bring traditional favorites and new offerings to the markets, restaurants and families they’ve served for more than five decades.
A tradition of quality and innovation
Cibao Meat has been a preferred brand of specialty and smoked meats in the metro New York area since Heinz’s grandfather emigrated from Germany to the Bronx, via the Dominican Republic. His grandfather was inspired to meet the demands of New York City’s diverse cultures and tastes and today, Cibao Meat offers products that include mild and hot Italian salamis, Mexican chorizos and cured Spanish longaniza.
Representing the third generation of this venerable family business and in tune with the explosion of “foodie” culture, Heinz saw new opportunities to grow. However, he also knew that the company’s Bronx-based production and distribution facilities had significant space limitations.
“By 2011, we were busting at the seams,” explained Heinz. “We had to find a new location that would allow us to grow and we needed to do something to refine our processes to make them more efficient.”
New space to meet increasing opportunities
With new contracts from several national warehouse clubs and an ever-expanding product line, in 2013 Heinz secured a new location. The facility’s proximity to the major highways and its room to expand were promising. However, the cost to renovate, relocate and install state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment was daunting.
“Once we decided on a bank and brought in Hector DaCosta from Pursuit, the project started to take off,” said Heinz, adding, “Hector and his team were with us every step of the way and made it much easier to get this done than we would have thought.”
With Cibao Meat’s building and equipment loans in place, renovations got underway.
Changes to plans, challenges and progress despite delays
Heinz expected that Cibao Meat would fully relocate its operations in 2017.
As is often the case with major construction and renovation projects, though, there were delays along the way. In Cibao Meat’s case, renovations took longer than anticipated and final certificate-of-occupancy approvals and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certifications were held up.
As a result, Cibao Meat had to continue production and packaging at the Bronx facility for considerably longer than Heinz and his team had planned.
Recently, though, Cibao Meat reached another major milestone: In late January, the Rockaway facility received its certificate of occupancy and final USDA certifications. New production and packaging equipment is in place, tested and ready to go, too. In addition, Cibao Meat has already hired more sales and marketing staff and added new products to its expansive lines of favorite meats, and the company has also evolved its marketing to primarily digital channels, like Facebook and Instagram, to optimize reach and continuously engage new customers.
Project completion is near
Heinz anticipates that full production will shift to the plant within months and with more space and modernized equipment, the company’s capacity and production efficiencies position it for continued growth.
Cibao Meat embodies the flexibility, ingenuity and perseverance that are hallmarks of successful businesses. As Heinz said, “Even before we fully relocate our production operations, we’re preparing to grow for the next 50 years!”