Thirty years ago, on his first day at a Bimbo bakery in Guadalajara, Mexico, Arturo Carrillo felt an immediate connection with his new place of employment.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is where I want to stay,’” he recalls.
Born and raised in Guadalajara, he has “stayed” with Bimbo, although the term is somewhat relative. When he started in 1989, he was a mechanic, working in the bakery’s maintenance department. At the time, Grupo Bimbo had only a few bakery locations around Mexico. Now, Grupo Bimbo has 136,000 employees and 198 locations across 32 countries.
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Over three decades, Carrillo has also grown with the company, moving from mechanic, to supervisor, to manager across a variety of departments—production, environmental, quality, sanitation, food safety, and crisis management. Today, he is senior director of quality, food safety and regulatory—nearly 2,500 miles away from Guadalajara in Bimbo’s US headquarters of Horsham, Pennsylvania.
A lot has changed for Bimbo, but the things that attracted Carrillo to the company in the first place remain.
“What I really liked when I started at this company was the philosophy, principles, and values—the people were the center of everything,” he says. “As I moved my way up the ladder, I had support from my managers the entire time and I learned a lot from them. They supported my continuing studies—I got a degree in electromechanical engineering—and through all these years what has stuck with me is how we try to retain and support talent so they continue to succeed.
“Moving to the United States was a challenge,” he adds. “From a personal, cultural, and language standpoint, it was tough. But at the end of the day, I believe that people are good everywhere and I want to do what I can to support a company that has helped me all these years and is growing itself.”
When Carrillo says that people are at the center of everything, it’s not limited to the personnel on Bimbo’s payroll. It includes every single shopper and consumer that spends money on a Bimbo product. The company’s commitment to its customer base is the driving force behind its new “Superior Quality Always” initiative—something that Carrillo is heavily involved in managing in Bimbo Bakeries USA. “Superior Quality Always” is an end-to-end holistic model that applies the company’s quality principles all the way from the bakery floor to the consumer’s kitchen.
Over the course of their relationships with Bimbo, several of the company’s business partners have seen their trust in Carrillo blossom. “Arturo is a strategic, forward-thinker and was instrumental in creating a partnership between the teams at Bimbo Bakeries USA and Nexcor Food Safety Technologies,” explains Robert Burgh, president of Nexcor Food Safety Technologies. “His advocacy for food safety and risk mitigation challenged both teams to think holistically about the food safety project and thoroughly implement new solutions. Arturo’s leadership encouraged the consideration of all viewpoints and the development of a complete food safety solution that aligned with Bimbo Bakeries’ vision and brand.”
Bimbo has always put a heavy emphasis on quality—one of the main reasons for its success—and Carrillo points out that the “Superior Quality Always” initiative engages every single department and employee within the organization.
“All areas are aware and understand how they impact the entire business,” he says. “Most conventional quality systems focus more on the manufacturing processes. In this case, we identify and learn and connect all areas to improve our products, processes, and efficiency. Ultimately, the consumers become the boss. We have to work to achieve and exceed their expectations and understand their preferences.”
“Change is difficult, but it is constant. It’s a big challenge, but at the same time, a very good one to have. Over the years, the thing I learn time and again is that not knowing something ultimately inspires me to learn more.”
The process of using reactive instincts to become proactive is a challenge in itself since consumer expectations are always changing. Carrillo points out that even at an intrinsic level, wholesale change is never easy.
“This is a cultural change,” he says of Bimbo’s new initiative. “The mind-sets and behaviors of associates that are used to working in a different way have to change, and you have to figure in generational differences, a variety of skill sets, capabilities, and even a working paradigm. Change management is a huge part of this, and we always knew that would be the most critical and difficult part.
“So we designed our strategy to overcome those barriers as well as factors that could derail us,” Carrillo continues. “We are implementing new technology, new software, new ways to do activities. You need a strong communication process with the right tools, right training, and right education. There is still a lot of work to do, but I believe we are moving in the right direction.”
What makes Carrillo uniquely suited to the role of implementing and overseeing this wholesale change is his personal and professional experience with the company. Carrillo has given thirty years of his life to Bimbo, moved across international borders, and taken on many different roles to improve Bimbo as well as himself. If anyone can personally illustrate the concept of working outside a comfort zone, it would be hard to find a better candidate than Carrillo.
“Change is difficult, but it is constant,” he says. “Yes, it’s a big challenge, but at the same time, a very good one to have. Over the years, the thing I learn time and again is that not knowing something ultimately inspires me to learn more.”
Giving yourself over to the fact that nothing stays the same is ultimately liberating, Carrillo notes. From one day to the next, his job is never the same. Working on US soil has brought with it a need to not only operate in a new language but also to get around a myriad of marketing and regulation requirements that vary from Mexico to the United States. In addition to ensuring superior quality for his consumers and customers, Carrillo must also ensure that the company associates are aware of various regulations, prepared for inspection, and well-trained. On top of all that, Carrillo strives to improve the world’s understanding of just what Bimbo is.
It might sound like a lot, but all these years later, Carrillo says he’s still exactly where he wants to be.
“I enjoy the interaction with everyone,” he says. “We always try to enjoy our time here, and I think it’s very rewarding when you see the results, you see associates appreciate our purpose and how we strive to help them grow personally and professionally. It doesn’t have to be a ‘job.’ It can be fun. It can be a family.”
Amerisan’s partnership with Bimbo Bakeries has helped Bimbo achieve its continuous-improvement goal, implementing color-coded 5S shadow boards for all locations. Each plant now boasts a streamlined 5S program that is HACCP and audit compliant. Thank you, Arturo Carillo, for enlisting Amerisan as Bimbo’s corporate supplier to improve food safety.