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PERRIS: gets big slice of pizza industry

PERRIS: gets big slice of pizza industry

Most likely, when you order a burger at an IN-N-OUT or a tortilla at a Taco Bell, your food was cooked on grills and ovens that were crafted by a family-owned Perris business.

The decades-old ProProcess, recently rechristened ProLuxe, manufactures commercial kitchen equipment for a big box and chain clientele that includes Margaritaville, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Corner Bakery Café, A&P, El Torito, KFC and Red Robin.

Now Steve Raio, ProLuxe’s president and CEO, faces his biggest challenge -- taking a bigger slice of the industry pie from the fired-up fast pizza industry that will double sales to $15 million by the end of 2014.

The company is poised to “blow up,” lingo for hitting the big time, and is scrambling to outrun its competitors. ProLuxe has 70 employees, 20 nationwide distributors and $1 million worth of in-house machinery. Raio and his team sell more than 2,000 units a year, their split-lid grills topping the list. Because every piece of equipment is made-to-order, the company turns out 100 units a day and has a back order of $1 million.

“The biggest money is in fast-casual dining,” said Raio, 56. And nothing is burning hotter than “custom pizza,” where pick-your-own toppings coupled with speed are wildly popular with consumers.

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