After working for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years, Javier Nava decided it was time to trade in his badge for salsa. Originally from Mexico, Nava and his family moved to the United States in 1956. Growing up in Texas, Nava spent much of his youth watching his mother cook.
“We would stand around and watch her cook and we could smell the ingredients she used; the oregano, cilantro, peppers,” Nava said. “I remembered those smells so when I created the salsa I tried to bring back those smells and aromas that I grew up with as a child.”
In the short amount of time Nava’s been pushing his brand full-time, he’s found a surprising amount of success. Nava first reached out to the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County in 2010 and attended several low-cost seminars including Getting Your Business Online and Introduction to QuickBooks. The Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County also informed him on minority business certification options.
“Last summer [my Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County business consultant] emailed me about the Winn-Dixie Winn-Local program,” Nava said. “We were one of the winners chosen by Winn-Dixie and currently we are in over 130 stores. We hope to soon be in the whole southeast for Winn-Dixie.”
Nava’s hard work was rewarded again last year when he earned shelf space at four Whole Foods grocery stores in the Tampa Bay area. He cites the process as being one of the most difficult processes he’s ever been a part of. Recently, Nava started working with Corey McCaster, business consultant at the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County. While their partnership is in its nascent stage, Nava looks forward to the continuing support and guidance.
Javi’s Salsa is also a member of the Fresh From Florida Program hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. With the help of McCaster and a newly hired broker, Nava will soon take aim at getting his product into Publix stores located in the southeast part of the state. Nava remains optimistic about the trying process ahead of him, knowing it will take time and patience.
“Success in any business doesn’t happen overnight,” Nava said. “I’ve been doing this for seven years and I’ve thought a few times about quitting and you just can’t quit. You just got to keep going.”
In February 2017, as a testament to Nava’s success, he was recognized with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award by Governor Rick Scott.
Governor Scott said, “I’m proud to recognize Javi’s Salsa with the Business Ambassador Award. We work hard to cut taxes so we can make Florida a great place for small businesses like Javi’s Salsa to succeed.”
President and Founder of Javi’s Salsa, Javier Nava, said, “It’s an honor to receive the Business Ambassador Award from Governor Scott. My family and I started Javi’s Salsa based on my mother’s recipe, and it’s great to carry on a family tradition and share with others throughout the state. I’m grateful for our success so far, and I look forward to continuing our growth in Florida.”
"I make salsa and I’m pretty good at it but the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County has helped me become a businessman. With Corey, he’s beginning to mentor me and I’m slowly evolving into that businessman."
- Javier Nava, Owner - Javi's Salsa