Groundbreaking held for company bringing 500 jobs to the Pee Dee

The groundbreaking ceremony held July 15 for California-based Ruiz Foods

Governor Nikki Haley took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for California-based Ruiz Foods which is locating to the old Heinz frozen foods plant in Florence and will create 500 new jobs.

"We are looking at a company that so reflects this community. Over $50 million invested 500 jobs," said Governor Haley.

Ruiz Foods will use the new site as a manufacturing center for its nationally-distributed El Monterey and Tornados products. El Monterey products include burritos, tamales, breakfast burritos, and Mexican snacks. Tornados are a snack sold on the convenience store roller grill.

The company will immediately begin renovations of the former Heinz facility. The company plans to begin manufacturing there in 2015.

Over the next several years, Ruiz Foods will employ more than 500 people.

Employment opportunities will include positions in plant management, building and manufacturing equipment maintenance, facilities management, cold storage, food preparation and assembly, quality assurance, mechanical and electrical maintenance and repair, stocking and inventory, shipping and receiving, accounting, clerical, administrative, and janitorial.

"Our expansion strategy included establishing a manufacturing facility on the East Coast," said Rachel P. Cullen, President and CEO, Ruiz Food Products, Inc. "Our products are in high demand with significant growth on the East Coast; and for us at Ruiz Foods, it's all about customer service."

The former Heinz frozen food processing facility was built in 2008.

"After conducting an initial search, we quickly narrowed our choice to this facility in Florence, South Carolina," adds Cullen. "My compliments to the State of South Carolina, the people of Florence County and the Florence County Economic Development Partnership. Their enthusiasm, cooperation, and flexibility made it possible to make our decision quickly."

Co-founded by father and son, Louis and Fred Ruiz in 1964, Ruiz Foods is a privately held corporation. "Hispanic Business Magazine" consistently ranks Ruiz Foods among the top 20 Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States; and among the top ten U.S. Hispanic-owned manufacturing firms in the United States.