From Judge Advocate General’s Corps to Chocolatier with SBA 7(a) and 504 Financing

In 1970, after completing his military service in Panama and Germany during the Vietnam War, US Army Veteran Pedro Córdova, relocated with his wife Mary Margaret “Mimi” McCloskey, to native Puerto Rico. 

Pedro had served with the ROTC while he was studying for his bachelor’s in Business Administration.  Once completed, he went on to obtain his Juris Doctor and later applied to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Back in Puerto Rico, he worked as an attorney in the private sector and was also the Executive Aide to Teodoro Moscoso, renowned Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO).

“An opportunity presented itself for a confectionery at Plaza Las Américas,” Pedro says. “I spoke with my wife Mimi and we decided to go for it.”

Plaza Las Américas, located in San Juan, is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, with over 300 stores.  Pedro knew nothing about confectionery or chocolate making, but he associated with Retail Confectioners International and began to learn how.

“I attended conventions, met experts in the field and took many classes in chocolate-making,” says Pedro.

Also, Pedro obtained $125,000 in financing from Banco Santander Puerto Rico under the SBA’s 7(a) Loan Guaranty program. With the proceeds, he remodeled the location, purchased equipment and inventory and also had some cash flow.

In December 1980, Pedro and Mimi opened the doors to Magritte Chocolatier, with six or seven employees, selling fudge, chocolates and other fine candies.

“I made the fudge myself; I made it for years,” Pedro says. “I also picked up shipments at the docks and airport every morning, paid the taxes, and would go back home to deliver the inventory to my wife.”

Magritte Chocolatier became a success, so much so that Pedro and Mimi were able to re-invest in the business and also develop different food service shops. First was Passion in 2000, offering homemade pastries, coffee and gifts. Then Ponte Fresco in 2004 with healthy salads, soups and sandwiches. Finally, they launched, Qué Pasta in 2007 with its made-to-order pastas.  Each concept was designed and marketed with a distinctive brand.  Ponte Fresco became so successful that it serves between 400 and 600 fresh produce daily. 

“When you want to start a business, you need to work at it hard and re-invest your profits,” the veteran says.

Growth for the group of businesses has been so successful, that the company’s office and warehouse was becoming small and uncomfortable.  Pedro and Mimi knew they had to find a location that could accommodate inventory, offices and a baking area. 

In 2013, Pedro approached Certified Development Company COFECC and obtained a 504 loan of $1.3 million, with First Federal’s third-party participation of $1.7 million.

With the proceeds, in 2014 the couple purchased a commercial property that today serves as the company’s warehouse, office, industrial kitchen and food distribution center. After renovations, the property is a 17,892 square foot building.

Sales for the stores exceed $7 million and close to 250 people have jobs.

“That is my greatest satisfaction as an entrepreneur – all the jobs we have created,” Pedro concludes.

 

Company Name: 
Magritte Inc.
Location: 
San Juan, PR
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