Growing up, Alejandro Castro’s dream was to become an architect, even though he grew up helping out in the family business, La Guadalupana. His grandparents immigrated from Mexico to Chicago to pursue the American dream. In 1945, they started a bakery, which later became a grocery store and Alejandro’s father, Rogelio, expanded the business into a Mexican food manufacturing company, best known for its traditional tamales and masa for tamales.
Alejandro remembers helping out in all areas of the manufacturing process, but always thinking about his future as an architect. With this in mind, he enrolled in the Illinois Institute of Technology.
One semester of architecture classes was all it took to convince Alejandro that he preferred working with numbers and switched to a major in Accounting and Marketing instead. Though he anticipated opening his own accounting firm after graduation in 1998, he found himself almost immediately taking over La Guadalupana, after his father suffered an injury. Alejandro hasn’t looked back since.
Alejandro has taken La Guadalupana in a new path to success since assuming the leadership of the company, including moving away from the grocery store business to focus exclusively on manufacturing, distribution, and a new frozen food line. These initiatives have led La Guadalupana to new levels of growth and more employees that contribute to the region’s economy. Finding his passion as a businessman has been fulfilling, but Alejandro also has found a need to give back through civic involvement, also following his grandparents and father’s example. “My grandparents were so well regarded. I’ve heard stories of them doing things like offering $100 and free groceries to recent immigrants who had nowhere else to turn for help.” Alejandro recalls.
Like his grandfather, he has been heavily involved in the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, having served as President and Chairman of the Board. This has given him opportunities to oversee and implement different community programs, including the Little Village Parade and the Arches program, which led to installation of public art in the neighborhood. With the support of the Chamber and the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, he established the Little Village Ambassador Scholarship Fund, disbursing more than $500,000 to needy college bound students over the last ten years. In addition, he has sat on the Hispanic Advisory Board for Catholic Charities, the Little Buds Theater Company, the Boy Scouts River Trails District, and he coached for ten years for the Youth Say Chicago Soccer League, where his four sons played. He is proud that his wife also works with him side-by-side helping to run the company and sees every challenge in life as an opportunity to build character and experience, which will make you stronger and better prepared for success.