Have you enjoyed sweet plantain slices, fried plantains, stuffed plantains, or yucca fries lately? If so, the plantains or yucca probably originated from a company called Mercadagro International Corporation (MIC Food). College alumnus Alfredo Lardizabal (BBA ’94) is vice president of sales and marketing for his family’s business, MIC Food.
MIC Food, a large umbrella firm that created brands such as Tio Jorge, Big Banana, and Costa Clara, specializes in producing and importing frozen plantain products and has a wide range of clients in the foodservice industry, including cafeterias, school systems, restaurants, regional chains, and national chains across the country and throughout Latin America.
In his twelve years at MIC Food, Lardizabal has worked in a number of different capacities. His first few years were spent in purchasing, where he sourced equipment, parts, ingredients, and packaging material. He then joined the export department, where he played an integral role in developing MIC Food’s business abroad. Later, he moved to the marketing department, responsible for managing the product marketing, product development, and strategic direction for the firm’s line of products.
In January, 1998, Lardizabal transitioned into the sales organization as a key account manager and, shortly thereafter, assumed the role of national sales director. In 2004, was promoted to his current position as vice president of sales. In this role, he is responsible for the national sales organization, consisting of the MIC Food sales team and all distributor and broker relationships throughout the country and abroad. The company has grown tremendously—20 to 22% this year alone. But it is still a wholly-owned family business and has been for 19 years. Lardizabal works with his father, Alfredo Lardizabal, Sr., who heads MIC foods, his two sisters, and his brother.
Lardizabal said his favorite part of being in a family-run business is the time he spends with his family while earning a living.
“It is also comforting to know that, in this company, there are no hidden agendas,” he said. “Everyone has a genuine interest in the business doing well, so it is much easier to delegate tasks and projects—you know everyone involved will give it his or her all.”
He added that, “When we face tough challenges and situations, the old cliché ‘we stand together as a family’ is not a cliché, but rather the real deal, and we are much stronger as a company because of it.”
Lardizabal attributes MIC’s accomplishments to its having a long-term vision that guides its decision-making process.
“Decisions always are made by thinking about what is best for the long run,” he said. “We think about our clients and their expectations. There are no quick fixes when evaluating how something will work ten to twenty years down the road.”
MIC has made a commitment to quality and service that has opened doors to food service restaurants throughout the U.S. MIC counts on its own sources of supply in South America to guarantee timely delivery of its products to customers.
Lardizabal said his company’s development matches his own.
“When I think back to my time at the university, what stands out the most is how real the case studies we discussed are to my own business experiences today,” he said. “In my company, we face challenges and situations similar to those we examined and discussed in class back then. I feel I learned a lot from the speakers FIU brought on campus; the stories and experiences they shared with us were very motivating to me personally and have played a role in what I do for a living today.”
Lardizabal enjoys working at his family’s business and is proud of the quality his company delivers. So the next time you taste a delicious plantain or yucca, you may wonder if it was from MIC Food.