“Some people have dreams; other people are living the dream.”

Even as a child, Ulysses Ruiz knew he wasn’t destined to work for someone else. His love of basketball inspired his dream to become a professional player but he soon realised that his height would be an issue. A passion for sneakers and owning a sneaker store was his next dream but the reality of living in a small town with a limited market stood in the way of that idea. But he did see that his small town and his local Hispanic community could be of great benefit in helping him fulfill his dream of being his own boss. And so, at the age of 21, Ulysses began “living the dream.”

Ulysses is the owner of Ruiz-Pardo Distribution, a family-owned locally based distribution company located in Ukiah. “We distribute anything Mexican product related such as tortillas, bread, tostadas, cheeses, masa, pastries. And if we don’t have it, we’ll investigate and find it for our customers.” His path to business ownership began when he responded to a business for sale ad that was posted on Facebook: “My mom saw the ad. She told me about it because she knew I always wanted to be an entrepreneur.” Ulysses contacted the seller who agreed to work with him for a couple of months to familiarize him with the business. Over that time, Ulysses saw the potential for growth and made an offer to buy the business. With his community connections and skillset, he was off and running. 

Ulysses has some pretty big competitors in the food distribution business but he’s found that being part of a small community and being bilingual really helps. His weeks are very busy with customer calls and ordering inventory, packing up orders, making emergency deliveries, and driving products from Ukiah north to Willits, west as far as Gualala, south to Geyserville, and east to Lake County. 

Ulysses notes that the advisors at West Center were very helpful and supportive when he made the decision to contact them: “West has been a great help and I consider my advisor to be my mentor now. If I need someone to communicate with and I don’t know exactly where to turn, West will know how to find the right answers. I’m going to keep using West’s free services as my business grows.”

Having his own business has taught Ulysses the value of perseverance. It has pushed him out of his comfort zone so he now feels confident to successfully operate his business, problem solve on the fly, and think about his operation in generational terms. As Ulysses says, “Don’t be scared to lose or fail!”

West Center is proud to support young entrepreneurs like Ulysses in their dreams of owning a successful small business.