What started out as a modest in-house business has evolved into Insular Trading, a large company that has generated approximately $ 24 million in revenue over the past year with the help of about 100 employees who work to manufacture and distribute their products in Puerto Rico and the United States.
The family business, founded in 1946 to sell Halka glitters, began in the garage of the Santurs home of the parents of the founder, Mr. Raphael “Fafo” Molinari.
“My father made Halka sequins at home and sold them through wholesalers and bus drivers all over the island. It was advertised on radio and at sporting events. Seven years later, he bought a business on Fortaleza Street in Old San Juan, where he sold the product and various items such as household items and toys, ”said Molinari, 84, who started working with her father as a teenager.
The business employed about 12 workers who later moved to a larger facility in Metro Office Park in Guaynabo as customers increasingly ordered more items. In 1992, Carlos M. Molinari joined us, and in 1998, José Luis “Joey” Molinari, the sons of the founder, who developed the business on a large scale, did the same.
“In 2004, the building got small and we moved to Vega Alta, where we have two warehouses. Over the past five years, we have created and developed our brands that are sold in large chains and independent retail stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores, ”said Joey.
The company, which became the exclusive distributor of the Imusa household goods brand in the 1980s, created the Cocina Criolla, Casa Limpia and Hogar Ideal brands in the 2000s, such as brooms, mops, scoops, buckets, pans, boilers. , household appliances and other miscellaneous household.
“After Hurricane Maria, we have seen significant growth. Over the past two years, between one and two million dollars has been invested in four trucks, and now there are only 12 for transporting around the island, as well as an automation system in warehouses. The production of Halka gloss continues and a small factory has been opened in San Lorenzo to produce brooms, mops, dust collectors and buckets under the Casa Limpia brand, ”said Gianmanuel Colón, director of sales and marketing for Insular Trading.
While the company had to look for new suppliers during the pandemic in countries like Colombia, it continued to expand its business opportunities both on and off the island.
“We had to look for suppliers outside of China and increase local production to meet strong demand. Consumption in Puerto Rico did not stop and doubled in the first months of government closure. The sales were unusual and up to 20 new employees were hired. We are at Home Depot in Florida, where there was a multi-month growth plan, but we are already working on the idea of expansion, ”explained Joey.
The plan aims to expand the presence of Insular Trading products already in 35 stores in Texas, California, New York and Florida.
“We have reached places with a lot of Hispanics with the Casa Limpia brand because this is the traditional equipment they use for cleaning. We will look for approaches to promoting Cocina Criolla kitchen appliances and tableware. In 2021, we plan to expand into other large chains in the US, ”concluded Colon.