Three Brothers Forge a Business in Winston-Salem
Dan, Nat and Phil Calhoun started out on their entrepreneurial journey as a landscaping company but have since redirected their focus to include food distribution, real estate, media and more over the past three decades.
Although the Calhoun brothers grew up in Mexico, they have always considered Winston Salem home. They finished high school and then theology degrees at Piedmont Bible College (now Carolina University).
In 1986, they started a lawn-care and landscaping company that provided service throughout Winston-Salem. In 1995, they founded La Tortilleria, which began as a tortilla factory but grew into something much larger.
“We started by making tortillas and along the way, we became a major Hispanic food distributor,” said Dan Calhoun, chief executive and president of La Tortilleria.
“We’ve always done business here. One of the main advantages logistically is that Winston-Salem is very nicely located between Atlanta and Washington D.C., so we cover all the area in between those major cities”
In 2008, the brothers began another business venture by starting a B2B magazine called Abasto, which is the only Spanish language business magazine in the country. Their portfolio of companies in Winston-Salem now includes La Tortilleria, Abasto Media, and Purple Crow Investments, a real estate holding company.
“Winston-Salem is not a congested city; it still has a small-town feel to it. The economic climate here is great, the employee base is great. Winston-Salem is an ideal place for the family home,” Calhoun said.
In 2018, the Calhoun brothers met Tom Teague whose company, Salem Leasing is another great Winston-Salem success story. Tom brought together a group of investors including Carlos Evans and Ken Langone, a founder of Home Depot. The new investment assisted with doubling the company’s warehousing operations and opening new facilities in other markets.
“When we get this building finished in early 2021, we’re going to be poised for a lot of growth and additional expansion,” said Calhoun.
The future of La Tortilleria looks bright – Calhoun says that they are actively looking to acquire other companies in this space, having already acquired a food service company in March 2020. They also have plans for more distribution centers in 2021 and beyond.
According to the Calhoun brothers, another major factor in their success is their underlying philosophy to “treat others the way you want to be treated,” which shows in their work and their company’s mission. “Winston Salem has treated us this way and I know they will continue to do the same for others”
The advice that Calhoun has for anyone looking to start a company or relocate in Winston-Salem is to “knock yourself out” and really, just go for it. The Calhoun brothers have certainly proven that there’s no limit to the incredible things you can accomplish here.
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