Entrepreneurialism is not for everyone; you have to be born with the spark.
Manteca is a city that is not growing as fast as we would want, socially speaking. In fact, those of us who have lived here for some time, but especially our children, have come to know Manteca as a ghost city after dark. Besides AMC Theaters and a few new restaurants along with tons of parks, there is nothing going on in the evenings or weekends. But, we do have families, and lots of them!
Since 2000, the year Jorge Toscano started his business, the population of Manteca was under 50,000 people. According to the U.S. Census, Manteca has over 75,000 people as of 2015. That’s almost a 35% increase and where Jorge Toscano saw the vision of entrepreneurship. The Hispanic purchasing power.
Jorge Toscano was born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents from Jalisco, Mexico. His father worked for Certified Grocers (now United Grocers), a Santa Fe Springs grocery warehouse company that fulfilled and serviced giant stores like Vons and Ralphs.
It was not easy growing up in Los Angeles. Even though his father had a full-time job, it was not enough to make ends meet, so his father also worked as a landscaper. Jorge would grow up helping his father in his landscaping business during days he wasn’t in school.
“My dad taught me the value of hard work,” he says. But the City of Los Angeles was not a safe city for a family to live in back the eighties. Rival gangs and constant crime motivated his father to look elsewhere to live to keep his children, three boys and a daughter, safe from all that activity taking place around them. His prayers were answered when his company, United Grocers, opened a warehouse in Stockton, so he transferred and moved to Manteca in 1991. Jorge was 12 years old.
Jorge Toscano is a graduate of Manteca High School where he met his wife of 18 years, Jolene, his high school sweetheart. He followed his father’s footsteps in the grocery delivery business and got a job at Super Store Industries in Lathrop, yet attended Delta College to pursue a career in Criminal Justice. He applied and was accepted to the Delta College Basic Peace Officer Academy, but an injury at his job ended his dream of becoming a police officer.
An opportunity presented itself almost immediately after his injury to help in a butcher’s shop at Star Market, a grocery store in Riverbank. The butcher “Benito” took Jorge under his wing, and taught him everything he knew from cutting beef to cooking “carnitas.” But all that came to a halt six months later when the owner of the store decided to sell the business. So, Jorge saw himself without a job or future once again.
During his tenure at Super Store Industries in Lathrop, Jorge was able to buy his first home. This obligation and beginning to raise a family encouraged him to always be on the lookout for better opportunities for his family. The idea of entrepreneurship he grew up learning from his father’s landscaping business, helped him decide once and for all that being an entrepreneur could not be more challenging than what he had gone through at such early age in his life.
Rosita in 2000
So in 2000, he opened in Manteca, Carnicería Rosita, named after her older daughter, Rosa María. It was not an easy task. It would take a considerable amount of money to open the store at its original location on Main Street.
Lacking the experience to manage a store and at 20 years of age, no bank, city subsidies or Chamber of Commerce came to help or offer any type assistance. So the only alternative he had was to sell his home and cash out on his 401(k) he had heavily invested in when employed at Super Store Industries. Friends and family members also helped him with personal loans because they believed in him, knew of his character, sense of responsibility and hard work. At 20 years of age, Jorge Toscano had already experienced what many of us do at a later age in life. There was not a rich dad or a million dollars to start your business, but intuition and a dream of a better future for his family.
Carniceria Rosita finally opened its door to the public in 2000. There was only a six-foot long table for produce, a small fridge, and four employees. He multitasked between cashier and butcher. His mother and father and butcher “Benito” were the other staff. The store had approximately $110,000 in revenue the first year.
Sixteen years of hard work enabled Jorge to move his store to a much bigger location closer to downtown Manteca, but still on Main Street. Carnicería Rosita now employs 28 people and has an annual revenue of over $5 million.
What started serving a small Hispanic community of fewer than 13,000 people in Manteca, Canicería Rosita has grown to be the “Raley’s” for more than 26,000 Hispanics in 2016. A vision of service, commitment, and gratitude for a city and its inhabitants make Jorge Toscano an exemplary citizen of our town.
He loves his family, his wife, Jolene and six children. Jorge believes in hard work and in never giving up. He loves his country, his community and is paying it forward. Jorge Toscano is part of the Mantecan Spirit.
Al Moncada is a 2016 Board Member of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This article represents not the views of the Chamber, but his own.