Don Ricardo Lizárraga Granados’ Mazatlan’s greatest legacy: bathing a city with the aroma of coffee

  • For 2 consecutive years it was distinguished as a Socially Responsible Company by the Mexican Institute of Philanthropy.-
  • Its founders went from miners to successful exporters of food products.-
  • Don Ricardo Lizárraga Granados dies at 92 years of age.-

By Mario Martini

Don Ricardo Lizárraga Granados, the youngest of 3 children, lacked a few months to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Marino Group that he founded in 1950. But his greatest legacy is shared today by all the Mazatlecos who – in addition to feeling their own to a company that contributed In a very important way to put Mazatlán on the international map – each one that crosses the southern overpass of the port confirms that La Perla del Pacífico is also a city with a coffee aroma.

The history
At age 14, when his mother Amada Granados died, his father Juan Lizárraga and brothers Enrique and Irineo decided to seek better living conditions for the family. The family settled in Villa Corona, Durango, where he worked in mining for about 4 years and from there they decided to try their luck at the thriving port of Mazatlán, where with their profits they established the grocery businesses La Faja de Oro and La Gaceta Comercia that they left under the administration of Ricardo, while the father and the older sons continued in the mining. But fate led them to install a modest coffee grinder in front of the municipal market that sold just 43 kilos a day, but with work, time and effort, it became one of the most important companies in Mexico: Café El Marino. Today, almost 7 decades later,

Recognized as a Socially Responsible Sinaloan Company by the Mexican Institute of Philanthropy during the consecutive years of 2013 and 2014, Grupo e Industrias Marino consolidated itself in the global business market with high-quality products and has participated almost since its foundation in tasks of social promotion , economic and environmental in the Mazatlan community.

Grupo Café El Marino reafirma su responsabilidad social | EL DEBATE

With the management of 3 generations, the company managed to stabilize itself in the second half of the last century, avoiding the recurring crises of the governments of Luis Echeverría, José López Portillo, Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado, Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Ernesto Zedillo, under the firm leadership of the brothers Ricardo and Enrique Lizárraga Granados, who brought order to the company and had the vision of the future to make it grow and extend it to the entire state of Sinaloa and various cities in the interior of the republic, competing with Veracruz and Chiapas that today today they are the main producers with 35% of the national market each, Oaxaca with 12% and Puebla with 8%.

Faustino Lizárraga García, half-brother of the Lizárraga Granados, joined businesses in the 1960s to pay attention to the organization of a company that grew and lacked the accounting controls that expansion required. For 20 years, Faustino controlled the accounting and financial aspects of the company with a heavy hand, providing viability for the international expansion that would come sooner or later.

The third generation, led by the sons of Ricardo and Enrique, under the leadership of Javier Lizárraga Mercado, current Secretary of Economy of Sinaloa, injected the company with the young blood that was needed to risk, innovate, create and take advantage of the new technologies of the Information and Communication that international competitiveness demands.

Simultaneously with the generational refreshment, international circumstances were taking the company to the field of global competitiveness. With Mexico’s entry into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1986 and subsequent to the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992, Industrias Marino had to prepare to enter the big leagues of world trade or stay as a regional domestic company.

El cafe de mejor calidad en Mexico - Cafe El Marino

But the new generations did not start from scratch, because the brothers Ricardo, Enrique and Faustino laid the foundations for a solid and sustained expansion that overcame all sorts of adversities and economic crises in the country and particularly on the volatility of international coffee prices that In 2015, over one hundred pounds were forecast above 180 dollars, which allowed to strengthen the productivity of Mexican coffee growers with good prices.

First steps
The family never imagined that they would be entrepreneurs in one of the most important industries in Sinaloa, since their sights were on mining, among the mountains of the Sierra de Durango, where the father had taken them when their mother died.

Five-year-old Ricardo, the youngest of the family, was a messenger in the ranch shops of the mining estates and he applied that early responsibility throughout his life, governed by hard work, responsibility and honesty at all costs. . At 12 he traveled to Mazatlán, but a few years later he returned with his brothers who had made a fortune in mining.

Convinced by the younger brother, the miners decided to invest the family capital to open a grocery store in Mazatlán in the 1950s, which they named La Faja de Oro, east of Morelos Street, in the city center. As the mining businesses prosper, the older brothers let Ricardo manage the La Faja de Oro and La Gaceta Comercial grocery stores, where people could find everything, like an apothecary.

One day, the Spaniard who distributed coffee to the two groceries convinced Ricardo to start a coffee business with exclusive distribution. In October 1950, the family’s first store appeared in a huge hallway located on Zaragoza Street, between Damy and Corona, next to the Red Cross pharmacy, which started with a small, home-made toaster mill that could not cope with strong competition with other roasters such as El Faro, El Cardenal and those of the Melchers and Farriols families who also distributed coffee of different brands. Sales and distribution were done by wheelbarrow and then by bicycle until they had a way to buy a medium-use truck with which Ricardo himself traveled the streets, neighborhoods and ranches to gain a piece of the market. But the control of the city was in the hands of the other businesses, so he looked for clients in the rural area and in the ranches to position the image of his fledgling business that until then had no name. To root him in the idiosyncrasy of the Mazatillo people, dedicated in the middle of the last century to shark and shrimp fishing, they found inspiration and baptized him simply as Marino.

With the sudden success of the brand came growth, so they had to rent a larger location. Giovanni Carrillo leased them a place on Aquiles Serdán Street, but a year after starting activities, in 1951, they bought the land of Avenida Gabriel Leyva to the south from the Severo Montero family, but while they were building the current plant –between 1957 and 1958- they were provisionally on Rosales street, the period in which Industria El Verde was created, in tribute to the mining town that received the family as children, dedicated exclusively to the purchase of grain and raw materials, mainly from the coffee zone of the neighboring state of Nayarit.

In 1965 the company moved to Café Verde, SA with headquarters in Mexico City and extensions in Fortín de las Flores, Veracruz and Tapachula, Chiapas, a company that currently supplies raw material to the plant. Modernity came in the 1970s: small makeshift ball toasters built by local turners who copied German technology from the originals were replaced by Thermato and Probat toasters, capable of continuously processing up to 1,500 kilos per hour, quantity well above the 100 kilos per hour that the old mill roasted. That year they formalized the National Coffee Association, based in Mazatlán, and Marino began exporting to New York, the United States -where he inaugurates a plant-, and then to Canada, France, Switzerland, and Iceland

But another challenge ensued: with higher capacity mills, production grew and it was necessary to open new markets. At that time, the challenge was to conquer the north of Sinaloa and that was how the brand settled in Culiacán, Guasave, Los Mochis and El Fuerte and later in Navojoa, Obregón and the main cities of Sonora. The natural route of mazatleco coffee continued towards Baja California Norte and in 1970 it installed offices in La Paz, in the southern part of the peninsula. As of 2014, there are 25 direct branches of Café Marino, covering 86 percent of the national territory and it only remains to conquer the market in Oaxaca, Chiapas, Campeche and Tlaxcala, several of them traditional coffee growers. Yucatan, where there is already Group representation, has been another difficult state to conquer, since they are areas of great local influence.

Expansion and diversification
Although coffee exports had their first attempts in 1965, it was until 1980 when the company Daymar Corporation, a distributor of Marino in the United States with headquarters in El Cajon, California, was formalized. This marketer exports roasted coffee beans, canned industrialized coffee in various presentations, soluble in boxes and jars. In the last 34 years, that modest coffee roasting business has a significant presence in the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea and Iceland.
True to the dynamism that characterizes this Mazatlan company, now its sights are set on Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England and France. The plant has the capacity to serve these and other markets, more markets and more coffee beans with and without sugar and instant soluble.

Marino is the second plant in the country in terms of production capacity with 4 thousand tons of soluble coffee per year out of the 14 thousand tons consumed by the national market. First place is held by the monster Nestlé, which dominates the soluble coffee market. Another important competitor is General Foods, which produces Café Oro, with a predominance in southern Mexico, while Marino controls the northern market to position itself as the first producer of roasted and ground coffee and the second national place in coffee with and without sugar.

To maintain the second national position, in recent years Café El Marino De Jalisco, SA was created, with three brands of its own products: Batichoco, chocolate powder; Caress, jelly in various flavors; and Q-10, soft drink powder.

El Master de El Marino

Strategic alliance
To face the difficult conditions of the coffee market in Mexico that arose in the 1970s, Marino decided to enter into a strategic alliance with CFS Continental, from which Café Continental, SA emerged. It is currently the largest company in the institutional sphere in Mexico, with branches in Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Cancun, Monterrey, Fortín de las Flores, Veracruz and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
Café Continental manufactures more than 46 products, from coffee to detergents, and attacks the institutional market that ranges from hotels, restaurants, clinics, hospitals, public offices to airlines.

In addition to the 46 distribution product lines, it offers office products such as coffee machines, creams, sugar, toilet paper, soaps, floor cleaners, dessert products, spices, cleaners, etc.

At the same time, alliances have been made for export-import with 5 other foreign companies in the food industry. The Blue Diamond, producer of almonds and pistachios, with headquarters in Sacramento, California and presence in 96 countries around the world; Nissin Foods, a Japanese company dedicated to making instant soups such as Ramen; Sweets’n Low, dietary sugar from Sugar Foods of New York; Golde Beach Company Sunny Sea, which canned seafood and mushrooms and has representations in Korea, Taiwan and Thailand; and the Keeber Co., USA, considered the second biscuit company in the world, after Nabisco.

And finally, Comercializadora Marino, SA de CV (COMARSA) was formalized to cover the sale of national and international marine products for import and export. In the field of distribution, Marino has an eye on Productos Chata, a brand also from Sinaloa.

With 69 years of history, which started in a modest place in 1950, Grupo e Industrias Marino are proudly Mazatlan companies that have put the name of Sinaloa in the international markets for food products and have done so with the tenacity, effort and honesty of those small miners who left the modest town of Verde, in the Serrano municipality of Concordia, to conquer the world.

Don Ricardo’s departure

Affected by the evils of age, Don Ricardo Lizárraga Granados died on May 21, 2020 at the age of 92, surrounded by his wife Yolanda Mercado Escutia and their children Carmen Yolanda, Ricardo, Juan Carlos, Javier and Arturo.

In thanking the distinctions to which Don Ricardo was the object, Javier – who today heads Grupo Marino and is the Secretary of Economy of Sinaloa – said about his father:

Fallece Ricardo Lizárraga, fundador de Café El Marino | Sinaloa ...

“Apart from being an excellent businessman, he was always an excellent promoter of Mexican coffee. around the world. But most importantly, the love and respect and human sense that he always had with employees and collaborators. An example that we have followed to the letter “
Solidarity hug to this great family that left the small town of El Verde, Concordia, to carry the pride of being from Mazatlán around the world and bathe in a city with the aroma of coffee.

Rest in peace.


The Mazatlan Post