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Local Family-Owned Business Serves Up High-Quality, Wholesome Food Across the Rocky Mountain Region for More Than 45 Years

woman in a grey sweater holding a bowl of cream of mushroom soup
Credit: iStock/Yulia Gusterina

Ready Foods is not a household name in Colorado. However, after 47 years of selling soups and sauces into restaurants, supermarkets and other food service outlets, you have probably eaten their food on multiple occasions. Ready Foods was founded in 1972 by Luis Abarca, a Mexican immigrant. Their first kitchen was located in a small meat plant located under the Colfax viaduct. In 1992, the reins of leadership were passed onto his children Marco and Adrianna. They have been able to grow the business from a small facility to four modern food plants with over 200,000 square feet of combined production and storage space. The company now employees over 300 people.

While over the years company revenues have grown quickly, Ready Foods has worked hard to maintain a solid company culture. Ready Foods has always had a strong commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. From the very beginning, the company’s leadership has understood the importance of investing in its own people. They understood that Ready Foods’ people were their greatest resource. In turn, they have been fortunate to have many long term employees and a lower than average industry turnover rate.

We are a mid-sized company that was beginning to plateau. With Manufacturer's Edge's assistance we have been able to get back on a growth trajectory. We have been very happy with their services and we are looking forward to deepening our relationship. 

—Marco Antonio Abarca, Owner

After twenty-five years of learning how to make the company grow, Marco understood that most of the low hanging fruit had already been picked. To take the company to the next level, new sources of ideas were needed.  Yet, he was reluctant to hire consultants. He noted, “I always thought consultants would tell me what I already knew.  I had confidence that with enough hard work, we could figure out any problems. But eventually it became clear that we did not have to teach ourselves everything. Why not learn from the hard won lessons of other people?”

After researching the Toyota Production System and lean theories of continuous improvement, Marco turned to Manufacturer’s Edge, part of the MEP National NetworkTM. Ready Foods’ first step with Manufacturer’s Edge was to engage in creating a Strategic Plan. “There were no sacred cows,” Marco observed. “Everything was on the table.”  While many of the company’s practices were already "lean", there was still room for improvement. 

Ready Foods was an already successful medium-sized company when it first started working with Manufacturer’s Edge. However, Marco understood that for the company to pass to the next generation of ownership, Ready Foods needed new ideas.


  • $1,000,000 in cost savings
  • $950,000 in new investment
  • 35 new or retained jobs

Could your company benefit from assistance with continuous improvement? Connect with your local MEP Center for more information.


Manufacturer’s Edge is the official representative of the MEP National Network in Colorado. The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that helps small and medium-sized manufacturers generate business results and thrive in today’s technology-driven economy. The MEP National Network comprises the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

About the author

Manufacturer's Edge

As a NIST MEP approved Center, Manufacturer’s Edge is the official representative of the MEP National Network in Colorado. Manufacturer’s Edge encourages the strength and competitiveness of Colorado manufacturers through coaching, training, and consulting, collaboration-focused industry programs, and by leveraging government, university, and economic development partnerships.

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