Get to Know the IMEC Board of Directors: Pedro DeJesus

Posted by Jordyn Shawhan on Apr 16, 2024 10:29:37 AM


In December 2023, IMEC Board of Directors welcomed Pedro DeJesus, Head of International Business and Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at Tampico Beverages, Inc. Pedro not only provides the Board with insight into Illinois’ beverage manufacturing industry, but his story once again shows that Illinois manufacturing is filled with all types of industry backgrounds.

Now Serving Smiles
Headquartered in Chicago, IL, Tampico Beverages is “Now Serving Smiles!” Their colors and unique flavors combine to form an irresistible taste designed to create moments of joy in the lives of consumers. Founded in 1989, their first flavor, Citrus Punch, has since been joined by a full product line.

“We have a compelling and unique brand proposition,” DeJesus said, when describing the Tampico brand,and we go to market in a unique way.”

Tampico Beverages differentiates its products by having a unique flavor profile and deep brand loyalty and recognition. With approximately 12 core flavors (and even more internationally), Tampico’s products include flavored punch drinks, iced tea, zero-sugar alternatives and frozen novelties, as well as alcohol-infused flavored malt beverages, Tampico Hard Punch, which was introduced last year.

The industry is exciting to Pedro because, as he put it, “The beverage industry is always ever–changing.” Consumers are the judge and jury, which makes staying fresh, relevant, and remaining top of mind to consumers a daily goal. This industry is not one that will tolerate complacency, making it both challenging and rewarding to win the public’s favor.

This was a completely new arena for Pedro. When he joined the business, it was private-equity owned and he joined a management team with a specific end-goal in mind.

Law to Punch
“Before joining Tampico, my primary training was that of a lawyer,” DeJesus explained. He graduated from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and worked as a corporate attorney at several large law firms and as an attorney in-house for a data analytics and market research company (IRI). The opportunity to enter the manufacturing industry unexpectedly arose when the General Counsel position at Tampico opened up.

Pedro joined Tampico at an especially dynamic time, when the company was gearing up for sale. “I joined the business in 2007,” DeJesus recounted, “and we sold the business in 2008.” When DeJesus joined he did not anticipate staying on after a successful sale of the business. However, instead of being purchased by another private-equity firm or another beverage company, Tampico was purchased by Houchens Industries, Inc., one of the most diversified and largest 100% employee-owned companies (ESOPs) in the country.1534881827583

Over the years he has transitioned from his primary role overseeing the legal department to taking on a business role. Right now, my role is broader then when I originally joined the business. In addition to overseeing the Legal and Human Resources departments, I currently run the international side of the business, which represents half of our overall business.” While DeJesus had some international legal transactional experience before joining Tampico, the breadth of his responsibilities has ramped up since 2007.

“Working in a strictly legal role is completely different from managing a P&L,” DeJesus continued.Working in a law firm, you’re dealing with specific clients on specific issues. Once that ends, you’re dealing with another specific issue for another client. You don’t really dive deep into your client’s business. What I enjoy about the role I have now is that, over time, you acquire very deep knowledge about a business and all of its levers and you can significantly move the business by knowing and understanding who the competitors are, how they operate, what product propositions make sense, what’s meaningful for the company in the short term, and what would make sense for the business over long-term.” That short and long-term strategic business planning is something that DeJesus really enjoys and is not a role a traditional attorney typically serves.

“Houchens has been a great owner and custodian of the business,” Pedro explained when discussing the relationship between Tampico and Houchens Industries. “They allow us to run our business and they are there for support and guidance when we need it. They leave running the day-to-day operations to the Senior Management Team.”

The new employee-owner dynamic has been revolutionary for Tampico. “We’ve instilled into our culture a mindset that ‘everyone’s an owner’ and, as a result, employees become more invested in the business and its overall success.”

Manufacturing in Illinois
While Tampico Beverages is a multi-national business, their manufacturing headquarters, administration, and product development are in Chicago. “I believe in U.S. manufacturing,” Pedro emphasized, “and one of the keys to our success has been maintaining our facility here.”

Some keys to Pedro’s personal success have been remaining curious and treating people compassionately. It is not surprising that outside of work DeJesus continues to help in any way he can. “I’ve served on a number of not-for-profit boards over the years and still serve on several that are meaningful to me. I have traditionally not been on a board directly aligned with my business, so joining a board that can not only provide services that our business can benefit from, but can help other manufacturing companies in Illinois, was a motivator for me. I think this is not only a great opportunity for me to learn about other manufacturing companies, but to see how IMEC can help service our business as well.”

From law, to beverage manufacturing, to the boardroom, Pedro’s breadth of experience provides an opportunity for him to positively impact the IMEC Board of Directors and for Pedro to help every small and mid-sized manufacturer in Illinois achieve lasting success.

Learn more about the IMEC Board of Directors.

Jordyn Shawhan

Written by Jordyn Shawhan

Topics: illinois manufacturing, manufacturers, board of directors, Leadership, IMEC Illinois

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