Exactly 20 years ago, Jose Pedro Camargo Rodriguez came to America from Moroleon, Guanajuato, Mexico, spoke no English and brought only his dreams, energy and diligence.
Today he owns Camargo Enterprise LLC that comprises two Carniceria Camargo butcher shops, one in Kennett Square PA and one in Wilmington DE, a laundromat adjacent to the Wilmington butcher shop, and a soon-to-be Mexican restaurant in Elkton, MD.
“I am the third generation of Mexican butchers,” he states proudly. Using knowledge passed down through the family, he opened his first butcher shop in New September, 2014 on Magnolia Street, Kennett Square, two blocks from downtown and strategically located near a residential area. The shop grew into more than a butcher shop and is now a convenient local mini-market. Hot Hispanic foods prepared “Michoacan style” referring to the herbs and spices used in Michoacan Mexico, are a popular takeout option.
His signature item is Chorizo sausage made from a family recipe more than 20 years old. Without giving away trade secrets, Jose says his chorizo contains much less fat and yields more meat and less grease than other commercially available options. He sells the chorizo to restaurants looking for high-quality product that yields them more for their money and an amazing taste profile.
Owing to the success of the first Carniceria Camargo, Jose was able to open a second location in Wilmington in 2016. And then last year, the adjacent space opened and Jose opened a self-service laundromat with the help of a loan from True Access Capital for washing machines and dryers.
The good news is that the grocery stores were able to remain open during the COVID pandemic, as they were deemed an essential business. The less good news is that while gross sales remained generally stable, business expenses increased because the slowed operations in meat processing facilities caused meat prices to increase.
Those expense hikes could not be fully offset by increasing retail prices, and so the profit margin decreased by nearly 50 percent. Jose turned to True Access Capital once again for a loan for working capital to rely on in the interim while prices stabilize.
“I couldn’t do this without my right hand, my wife Vanessa Padillo-Penado.Vanessa, who manages the Wilmington stores,” said Jose. The duo is indefatigable, and they don’t intend to stop any time soon.
Vanessa and Jose are the embodiment of a sentiment spoken by Thomas Jefferson: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”