Family Food Business Shifts to Catering for MinesMon, 10/21/2013 - 11:58
Providing catering services to the mining industry is no easy task. Usually located in remote areas, food suppliers have to deal with the challenges posed by difficult terrain and weather conditions without neglecting the most essential part of the operation: food quality. Grupo Prosesa, a family business with over 30 years of experience providing catering services to the manufacturing industry, started working with the Mexican mining industry in 2007. Its move into mining triggered the company’s growth from 300 employees to its current 1,300. The foundations of the business, however, go back two generations: “Our grandparents provided food services to sawmills and mines in the Sierra de Chihuahua, where the forest industry operated at the time. They moved in search of opportunities, and their expertise was passed on to my mother. Thanks to her we were born in the food sector,” recalls Arnoldo Morán Andrew, Commercial Director of Grupo Prosesa. However, it was not until 1985, when the manufacturing industry and maquiladoras started operating in Chihuahua, that the family decided to switch from the restaurant business to the industrial catering sector. It was the combination of expertise, knowledge and service that enabled Grupo Prosesa to break into the mining sector in 2007. Morán Andrew explains that the new business opportunity posed a huge challenge: the company had to provide catering services to remote locations while using the same quality parameters. “We started working with Compañía Minera Dolores in a mining location with no campsite. At the beginning we slept in tents, but we grew together with our client.” Nowadays, Grupo Prosesa still supplies most services to Compañía Minera Dolores, ranging from administration, collection and trash removal to staff accommodation. The company does laundry, cleans common areas and rooms, and performs minor preventative maintenance tasks. As Morán Andrew describes them, the company takes care of all those details that take up the client’s time and keep it from focusing on its main activity: mining. Grupo Prosesa also works at Los Filos, Guerrero with Goldcorp; La Colorada Mine, Zacatecas with Pan American Silver; Milpillas, Sonora with Peñoles; and Creston Mascota, Chihuahua with Agnico Eagle, among others.
The industrial catering company works with many food schemes that range from central dining halls on the campsite to peripheral dining where the operation takes place. It delivers workers hot meals that comply with international standards for food handling and its processes have the ISO 9001-2008 certification, as well as the Distinctive H, a recognition from the Mexican health authorities for hygiene. Morán Andrew explains that Grupo Prosesa is the only domestic company dedicated to providing food services to campsites that is certified as a Socially Responsible Company (ESR), which is one of the core programs in the mining industry. Therefore, it is not unusual for its clients to ask the company to develop projects to support local communities where the mining project is located. For example, in Dolores the company collaborated with local school teachers to develop various festivals during the year, and in Ocampo it worked on projects to develop the local economy. “We are unwaveringly committed to the local communities, and we are strategic partners for our clients in the locations in which they operate,” he adds.
The main challenge that Grupo Prosesa regularly faces is the remote location of mining sites, since the company has to overcome the hurdles that arise from weather conditions such as snowstorms during the winter and overflowing rivers during the rainy season. But by adapting schedules and acquiring adequate transportation the company is able to guarantee its services. “In remote sites it is nature that establishes the rules of the game. For as long as our work is in these places we will continue adapting to the circumstances,” Morán Andrew highlights. Perhaps the key to successfully operate in remote conditions lies in the emphasis and importance that Grupo Prosesa places on hygienic food handling. “Everything has to do with the quality of the product transformation process, from the moment the produce is received to the process that makes up the steps required to make a delicious meal”, Morán Andrew says.
The company’s success is based on four pillars: quality, flavor, warmth and cost. Quality has to be part of the company’s human resources, products and services. As Morán Andrew comments, flavor is the soul of the business, regardless of whether it is a Monday midday snack or the third shift of the day on a Sunday. “Warmth is what makes the company so unique. We are very focused on people; we work with them and for them. In our commercial relationships we take care of people who are far away from their families, and we have to take that into account,” he says. “Of course, we also take care of cost by ensuring that we offer a competitive price.”