August 29, 2017
This month, El Rey has been honored with the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM) at their annual meeting. This award recognizes El Rey’s dedication to giving back to their community and supporting local organizations. For 19 years, El Rey has partnered with the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Inc. on an annual golf event which honors one of the founders, Heriberto Villarreal, and raises thousands of dollars for Hispanic students. Recently, the business supported the HPGM Five Star Gala to help raise additional scholarship funds. El Rey’s long history of giving back to the community stems from their long history of being part of and growing within the community.
Heriberto and Ernesto Villarreal were born in Mexico, and immigrated to Wisconsin with their family in the 1960s. In 1978, Ernesto and Heriberto along with their wives, Olivia and Criselda, decided to open the grocery store, Super Mercado El Rey, to cater to Hispanic immigrants and to bring products from Mexico to Milwaukee. As immigration from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean began to increase, El Rey shifted their business model to accommodate to the entire Hispanic population in Milwaukee. In the early 1980s the Villarreals began a corn tortilla factory to wholesale tortillas, chips and tamales to local Milwaukee restaurants. Today, El Rey is one of the largest Hispanic-owned corporations in Wisconsin with four locations in Milwaukee.
Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee was created in 2001 to showcase Hispanic talent in the Milwaukee area and provide Hispanics and Hispanic businesses with leadership, mentoring, education, and networking. HPGM awards recognize those who have exhibited leadership, achievement, and responsibility in the field of diversity.