Our Community - Delia and Andre Perez - "Rising to any occasion in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 9, No. 46            December 2, 1999

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Delia and Andre Perez

Once a small fishing village, San Pedro has endured several industries, namely the coconut industry, fishing industry and now the tourism industry. Many may not know this but there is one specific business on our island that can be considered an industry of its own. This happens when you take a raw material and after various processes it is converted into a product. It is fairly safe to say that this process in its own is an industry. This is the case of one San Pedro business that, under the good management of its owners, has flourished into one of the most prominent enterprises of La Isla Bonita. This week, Our Community is pleased to feature Mrs. Delia and Mr. Andre Perez of La Popular Bakery.

    This couple has been in San Pedro for a fairly short time but has made a significant impact on our community. Delia was born and raised in Belize City and Andre was born in Orange Walk. He then moved to Belize City to pursue his high school and junior college education. While in school, the couple met and fell in love. After graduating from their respective fields, the two moved to Andre's birthplace and made their home, eventually marrying in 1982. Each of them commenced work; Andre as a Systems Analyst at the Belize Bank in Orange Walk and Delia as a teacher at the Orange Walk Technical High School. Soon after, this working couple started a family, which now consists of two lovely girls, Samira (10) and Alexya (4). The Perez's felt they had achieved the dream every couple wishes for: a happy family, a secure job and a comfortable living. But soon their lives would take a ninety degree turn, with the Perez's making decisions that would change their lives.

    A friend of the family (Ariel Santana, owner of La Popular Bakery in Belize City) approached Andre during a reunion and proposed a franchise of his business in San Pedro. Manelly's Bakery in San Pedro was being sold and his friend Ariel firmly believed that there was still great potential for this market in San Pedro. Andre was skeptical about this idea, having absolutely zero experience in this field. They flew to San Pedro to look over the business and after much perseverance and persuasion from his friend, Andre was convinced to go for it. "It was a great risk I was taking. All my immediate family was against it except for my father. But what counted most was that I had the full support of Delia and that meant a lot to me," explained Andre. Both Mr. and Mrs. Perez gave notice to their employers and Mrs. Perez went the extra mile to secure a job in San Pedro by applying for a teacher's job at Lydia's Institute of Fine Education (LIFE).

    On July 9th, 1997, the Perez's arrived in San Pedro and after many days of intense work, La Popular San Pedro opened its doors to the public. Their location (the same one as today in downtown San Pedro) was only a small space. "To expand we had to break down our apartment to make room. At the beginning it was tough, but we knew that we had to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to enjoy the fruits of our business," commented Andre. Delia had to leave her job at LIFE since she also had to devote tireless hours helping her husband ensure the business' success. The business began with five employees plus Andre packing, cutting and delivering the orders. After only six months their demands grew and the number of employees rose to eight. Ironically after the threat of Hurricane Mitch, they realized that the population of San Pedro was much higher than was previously estimated and the demand for their products was growing as well. The Perez's knew that to be able to meet these needs, expansion would be necessary.

    In January of 1999, they purchased a lot in the Boca del Rio Area and started the construction of a new and improved bakery. On November 22nd, 1999, this dream became a reality. Their new location to the north is very convenient to the residents of that area and to persons traveling to their homes on that part of the island. Their downtown store is still open for their customers on the southern end. Today, La Popular Bakery employs a total of sixteen full-time and five part-time workers. They continue to introduce new baked goods and even offer wholesale prices to interested businesses. With the large assortment of goods, it is difficult to pin-point a favorite, but their cinnamon rolls, bread sticks, garlic bread and the classic "capricho" seem to be the most popular. To complement these goodies they will be introducing a variety of cold meats and dairy products soon. The new location is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

    In closing, Mr. Perez told the San Pedro Sun, "I can't stress enough the importance of how much we value the support we have received from the people of this island. We have to keep up with the growing pace of San Pedro. We are also fully aware of the fact that this island is extremely health conscious, so we only use the best and finest ingredients in our goods."

    Delia and Andre Perez took a chance and left their home and careers to start a business in San Pedro. They have proven that the family that works together, stays together and eventually succeeds. Their products are an every day necessity in our homes and have become the newest industry in Our Community.

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