In the heart of Mexico’s automotive industry, there are two successful female entrepreneurs; Claudia Perez and Lupita Medina. They own Invernadero Tolentino in Villagran, Guanajuato, Mexico, a well-known company for vegetable transplants in the Bajio, Mexico. The perfect team, Claudia does the growing and Lupita handles the administrative part of the business. Together Claudia and Lupita have worked hard to build the business to what it is today. Their success is measured by the amount of new business that they receive every day and their need for more space to grow their vegetable seedlings.

Around 1992, Claudia started to work for a big vegetable seedling producer in the Bajio Region. Claudia said in the beginning it was difficult because she was the only woman in the industry. A decade later, she met Lupita, at that time she was her co-worker. Armed with their vast knowledge of plant production and their entrepreneurial enthusiasms, they rented a single-bay greenhouse in 2006 in Cortazar, Gto. MX and started their own company; the following year they expanded and ended up with four single-bay greenhouses. At that time approximately 80% of the production space was dedicated to broccoli and lettuce, the rest was dedicated to tomatoes, peppers and other vegetable transplants.

By 2008, Claudia and Lupita bought land in Villagran, MX. In 2009, they purchased four used greenhouses in a nearby town and erected them on their land. After the business started to grow, they needed more space and one greenhouse was constructed every other month for a total of 18 greenhouses. Then, they bought another piece of land next to the greenhouses and 12 more greenhouses were added. Today in 2015, there are 50 greenhouses and they want to end the year with 52 greenhouses. Claudia and Lupita laughed when asked how many employees they started with; Claudia told me with two, themselves. Currently, they employ 65 people and offer benefits that other companies do not provide.

Javier Calderon Senior (ICAPSA), Lupita Medina, Maru Ramos, Claudia Perez, Rene Buterfield (ICAPSA)
David Suez, Javier Calderon Junior (ICAPSA), Maru Ramos, Claudia Perez, Lupita Medina, Javier Calderon Senior (ICAPSA), Rene Buterfield (ICAPSA)

Invernadero Tolentino supplies enough plugs to plant 100 hectares (247 acres) per month. Note that 73% of the farmers in Mexico farm less than 5 hectares (12.3 acres). About 60% of the vegetable transplant plugs produced are broccoli and lettuce, the rest are tomato, peppers (increasing volume over time), cabbage, celery, asparagus, melons, watermelons, onions, Chinese cabbage, and others. Seedlings are grown in PRO-MIX® CB295 and lately in PRO-MIX® CB523. The first product is composed of 100% peat moss, wetting agent, dolomitic and calcític limestone. The second product is composed of 100% peat moss, micronutrients, macronutrients, a wetting agent, and dolomitic and calcitic limestone. It is noteworthy to mention that new germination growing media are often evaluated at Invernadero Tolentino before they are introduced commercially in Mexico and Latin America. For example, Invernadero Tolentino tried a custom blend, PRO-MIX® CB257, and after a couple of years with exceptional success; this product was introduced with its own name: PRO-MIX® GTX*. This product contains peat moss (90-95%), vermiculite (5-10% ), micronutrients, macronutrients, wetting agent, dolomitic and calcític limestone. PRO-MIX® GTX* has become vastly popular with vegetable transplant growers in Mexico and Latin America.

*PRO-MIX® GTX is not available in Canada and the US.

A greenhouse in Invernadero Tolentino
A greenhouse in Invernadero Tolentino
A greenhouse in Invernadero Tolentino

For Claudia and Lupita, greenhouse production was not enough. A perlite producer offered them the exclusive distribution of their product and in 2009 they opened a greenhouse supply store with another entrepreneur business partner, Maru. Besides perlite, there was a need for a growing medium product to complement the store; they were introduced to ICAPSA, our distributor in Mexico and PRO-MIX® sales started to grow in the Bajio Region. Why PRO-MIX® for the store? Claudia, Lupita and Maru wanted to have a unique product and a better option for a substrate in the Bajio Region and without a doubt, they chose PRO-MIX® over several peat moss companies from Canada and the European Union.

INVERNADERO_TOLENTINO plantulas de lechuga
Lettuce seedlings

Claudia and Lupita continued to grow the business by building a second growing range in Huamantla, Tlaxcala. This facility is located southeast of Villagran, it is five hours away by car. This facility is capable of producing 12000 trays of vegetable transplants per month. Having a huge workload in the greenhouses was not enough for Claudia and Lupita thus they planted 50,000 cantaloupes in a plot next to the greenhouses in Villagran.

Claudia said that the keys to their success are maintaining high-quality transplants, service, punctuality and hard work. Their greatest challenge is finding space to grow all their crops because every day, they have new customers.

Invernadero Tolentino Oficinas

In the summer of 2014, Claudia, Lupita and Maru were invited to visit Premier Tech Horticulture’s International Corporate Offices in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, Canada. They were astonished by the welcome at the airport. During this visit they had the opportunity to meet the people behind the telephones and computers; likewise, they had a tour around the Campus Premier Tech, the bogs, how the peat is harvested, restoration bogs, production and packing facility, the biotechnology and substrate laboratories as well as the research greenhouse. In addition, Claudia, Lupita, Maru and Mr. Bernard Belanger, our CEO and the Chairman of the Board, had the opportunity to talk about business and share ideas. The other days, they visited historical places in Montreal and Quebec City.

Claudia and Lupita like PREMIER TECH PRO-MIX because PRO-MIX is available all the time, the customer support and the high technology of the products. Invernadero Tolentino’s motto is: “THE PRODUCTION CAUSES SATISFACTION” or “LA PRODUCCION CAUSA SATISFACCION”.

Sello de Invernadero Tolentino
Seal of Invernadero Tolentino

We wish the best to Claudia, Lupita and Maru and look forward to continue providing their growing medium needs.