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Dean's Executive Speaker Series

Sergio De Leon

Owner, De Leon Food, De Leon’s Taco & Bar, Northwest Freight Handlers

Sergio DeLeon stands in front of students.

Born in Tampico Tamaulipas, Mexico, Sergio De Leon’s family moved to the U.S. in the mid 1970s. As a child, his family moved around the U.S. before they finally made the Texas Valley their home. Sergio is the fourth of six children. He remembers wanting to work at a very young age because he would see his parents and older siblings going to work every day, and he wanted to help the family. In 1988, his family moved to Portland, Ore., where Sergio worked three to four different jobs because he said he had too much extra time. It did not take long for his supervisors to take notice of his strong work ethic and be promoted. Sergio began working in Spokane on occasional projects for a warehouse company. He would commute from Portland because he knew this job could become a great opportunity. The job started with occasional projects as short as one day, and as they got to know him, the projects started getting longer. Soon, he was managing the warehouse. In 1995 Northwest Freight Handlers (NWFH) became a reality. In 1998 he married Mayra, the love of his life. Together they worked at NWFH and in 2007 they opened the first De Leon’s foods. In less than a decade, De Leon’s Foods has grown from a little grocery store, to multiple taco & bar restaurants. They are very thankful to the people of Spokane for the tremendous support they have shown all their businesses. He is living proof that hard work does pay off!

Family is the most important thing to Sergio. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his four children and going out to nice dinners with his wife. Today, Sergio will tell you that life is great!

Tips for Success

  • Love what you do.
  • Surround yourself with the right people that will help you succeed.
  • Have a good business plan and keep it simple at first.
  • Have a good attorney and accountant.
  • Do your market research and have a solid marketing plan.
  • Look at your competitors.
  • Research your desired clients and audience.
  • Get involved in the community and participate in community events.
  • Offer different specials to attract different people.
  • Use all social media outlets.
  • Location!
  • Pay attention to text menu and product.
  • Don’t be offended if people don’t like your idea.
  • Hire essential help.
  • Do soft openings to see how smoothly things will run.
  • Train your employees.
  • Fill in as needed.
  • Know how every position operates.
  • Be aware of labor costs.
  • Know that it takes a long time to be profitable.
  • Be aware of labor costs.
  • Keep marketing. You can’t depend on repeat customers.