Photo by Craig Kohlruss

Kim Ruiz Beck (1988), Distinguished Alumna

By ESRA HASHEM

Kim Ruiz Beck is the daughter and granddaughter of her heroes.

Her father and grandfather co-founded Ruiz Foods in 1964, a family-owned business and the largest manufacturer of frozen Mexican food in the United States. Born and raised in Tulare, Kim remembers her mother picking her up from school and driving straight to Ruiz Foods, where she’d do her homework while her mother worked in the office. In the summers, Kim helped out with the family business.

“We packed burritos and stamped boxes — whatever was needed,” Kim says. “We really developed a great sense of pride in what my father and grandfather were building. I knew I always wanted to be a part of it.”

Kim worked part-time at Ruiz Foods while earning her bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Fresno State. As the first in her family to graduate from college, Kim used her experience at Fresno State to help grow the family business. She recalls a class assignment where she did market research for Ruiz Foods’ chimichangas with students on campus.

“They were a big hit,” Kim says, laughing. “I loved school. A lot of the business challenges we were facing were directly related to what I was studying.”

Kim has since earned her master’s degree and held various leadership roles at Ruiz Foods, including her most recent role as chairperson since 2009. In 2015, Kim was named as one of the most influential women in the food industry.

Still, to Kim, no one’s as influential as her parents — her heroes. She remembers her parents always supporting their community.

“They were great examples of giving back,” Kim says. “Our family has been so blessed that we want to pay those blessings forward.”

Kim is a trustee of Valley Children’s Hospital, president of Valley Children’s Healthcare Foundation and a Las Madrinas guild member, which supports children’s hospitals in Los Angeles.

Kim also pays it forward through her work with Ruiz 4 Kids, a non-profit organization made up entirely of Ruiz Foods team member volunteers. Ruiz 4 Kids has raised over $3 million in scholarships for graduating high school and community college students.

“It gives students that vote of confidence that we believe in them,” Kim says. “It give you a lot of pride when you see what these kids go through. They’re just amazing and it gives you a lot of hope for the future.”