Originally hailing from the Dominican Republic, Cesar Ramirez immigrated to the United States when he was 17 years old, looking to make his mark on the world.
After settling in New York City, he took a job at a grocery store, applying himself to learning every aspect of the industry—an endeavor which would serve him well later in life. In time and with a considerable amount of hard work, Cesar Ramirez saved enough money to move to Orlando, Florida, and fulfill his longtime dream of entrepreneurship by opening his own business, a network of grocery stores operating under the name Oakridge Farm Food, but also known as Bravo Supermarkets. In the years since then, the business has achieved tremendous success, growing to include eight supermarkets located throughout Florida.
Outside of running Bravo Supermarkets, Cesar Ramirez donates much of his time to volunteering and raising funds for St. Jude’s charities. Beyond that, he has a keen interest in computer science, and actively studies the subject, keeping informed of all the latest hi-tech developments. He also enjoys playing golf whenever his schedule permits. Cesar still calls Orlando, Florida home, and resides there with his beloved wife and three wonderful daughters.
What do you currently do at your company?
I’m the founder and president of Bravo Supermarkets in Orlando, Florida, which is also known as Oakridge Farm Food. I have a very active role in the business, meaning I don’t simply sit back and let other people do the work while I collect the profits. Although each day is different, it usually involves a few of the following components: accounting, data analysis, product research, staff coordination, supply chain management, and customer outreach. I also tend to have a lot of meetings.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Ever since I was a young man, I knew I wanted to own my own business. The idea to open a supermarket originally came to me when I was living in New York City. I paid my bills by working at a local grocery store. There, the realization dawned on me that markets and grocery stores are crucial parts of every neighborhood because absolutely everyone needs to buy food. Not only that, but they act as community hubs where people meet up—whether on purpose or by chance—and speak to each other about news regarding family, friends, and local issues. I think this was the notion from which my idea to create Bravo Supermarkets sprang. It also didn’t hurt that I’d learned a lot about how to run a grocery store by simply carrying out my daily duties. I already knew how everything worked.
What defines your way of doing business?
In a few words; honesty, integrity, and an innate desire to provide quality service to all the communities in which Bravo Supermarkets operate.
What keys to being productive can you share?
I think the biggest key to my personal productivity is thinking things through clearly before taking any action. This encourages efficiency and farsightedness, and it significantly reduces missteps stemming from hotheadedness or impetuousness.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
Bravo Supermarkets currently has eight locations. It is my goal to double that number in the next ten years. I’m considering expanding outside of Florida, as well.
What would you tell your younger self?
If I had access to a time machine and could go back and have a conversation with my younger self, I would tell him to save and invest more of his hard-earned money. With the passage of time, it will amount to far more in the future than you can imagine, and it will help you greatly when it comes time to open your first business.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
Even if you don’t agree with it or act on it, it’s always a good idea to listen to others when they offer advice. They might be providing a viewpoint that you’ve never considered.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
One of the great passions in my life is computer science. I’ve always had an interest in software, hardware, and the telecommunications infrastructure needed to support the world’s computing needs, and I actively learn all I can about these subjects. I also love playing golf whenever I have time to spare.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I think my colleagues would describe me as driven, hardworking, approachable, optimistic, and open-minded.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
First and foremost, I love spending time with my wife and three daughters. I believe this centers me and puts my professional life into perspective. Cultivating my hobbies also helps in this respect.
What are some of the keys to your success?
I would have to say that one of the major keys to my success is having assembled a talented and insightful team and giving them the tools and training to effectively do their job. A good deal of credit for the success of Bravo Supermarkets belongs to them.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
I guess it would be that old adage by Benjamin Franklin that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” This thought was instilled in me from an early age, and I believe observing and employing it has done me a lot of good over the years.
What advice would you give to aspiring to succeed in your field?
My advice would be that a successful career in the supermarket industry requires patience, foresight, people skills, and the ability to recognize that every member of your team has the potential to make positive contributions if given the chance. So, it’s really important to listen to them when they make suggestions or give you their thoughts, and then to keep an open mind about what they say.
Getting to Know You: Cesar Ramirez, President of Bravo Supermarkets