Invest in your people and they’ll invest in you.
The story of Jack Landsmanas and his business, Corporativo Kosmos, starts in 1959. His grandfather, Pablo Landsmanas, immigrated to Mexico to start a new life. Through hard work, his grandfather laid the foundation for what was to become one of Mexico’s largest conglomerates. Corporativo Kosmos moves over 700 pounds of food and serves countless of meals across Mexico every day.
But Jack credits the company’s success not just to its services. The key, he says, is to optimize your company and to make giving back a priority. The Pablo Landsmanas Foundation, named in honor of Jack’s grandfather, empowers thousands of women, children, inmates, and more through social welfare programs across Mexico to carry on Jack’s family legacy.
Where did the idea for Corporativo Kosmos come from?
Corporativo Kosmos actually started with my grandfather, Pablo Landsmanas. He was originally from Lithuania and arrived in Mexico in September of 1959. He worked at the company, FUD, to learn about the art of butchering and the food industry as a whole.
My grandfather used the experience and knowledge he gained from working there into his first business: “La Modelo.” It was a butcher shop based in Mexico City.
From there, the business grew. And it grew a lot. Today, the business is called Corporativo Kosmos. It’s one of the largest business groups in Mexico and it provides meals across Mexico everyday.
But what I appreciate most about our company’s founding isn’t just my grandfather’s legacy, but also the environment of giving back that he created. He showed me what it meant to give back as a business. I’m truly honored to carry the torch and pass on his family legacy of passion and perseverance. Who knows where the next 50 years will take us?
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I like to get very involved in my business operations. I learned everything I know from my grandfather, and I know how important it is to be on the ground with your team every day.
With that said, my typical day is pretty busy. We feed Mexican citizens every day, from school lunches to hotels. I find myself relying a lot on my team to help me make better decisions, faster. As long as you have a quality, trustworthy team on your side, don’t be afraid to trust them with the work. I try to empower my employees so I can tackle the big issues I need to focus on as the CEO. In other words, empowered delegation is key.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As a CEO, I can’t get involved in the daily minutiae. It’s my job to think about the big picture and long-term company goals. So any time I have an idea, I look at how that idea will affect our employees and all of Mexico not for a year, but for 20 years.
I’m very, very passionate about Corporativo Kosmos because of the amazing work we do. I have to proceed carefully with every idea, because it affects so many people.
It helps to stay humble and true to my roots. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life. I want everyone to have a good life, and I have to weigh my decisions so they’re good for the whole.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited that more business leaders are taking an interest in optimization. And not optimization for the sake of it, but effective optimization in their employees, logistics, and processes.
In the food industry, this is a no-brainer. You have to be the best if you want to stay in the market. It looks like this is becoming a reality in other industries, as well. Now we’re seeing a renaissance of growth and learning opportunities that business owners in the past may have overlooked. I credit that in part to better access to educational tools through technology.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t let myself get tangled up in the things that don’t matter. I work according to my values. What’s important to me? Where am I most needed?
When you know your values, you know who you are as a CEO, you keep your team engaged, and you make better decisions. If something doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t align with your values, don’t do it. Corporativo Kosmos has a strong legacy and culture, and because of that, I can quickly determine what actions are best for the company.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I had a great role model in my grandfather, but I would still have told my younger self, “Show up and serve.” Our entire company is founded on the mission of giving back. I love Mexico. It’s my home and I have an obligation to my fellow Mexicans.
Corporativo Kosmos gives free services and meals through dozens of nonprofits across Mexico. We also give job training and social reintegration help to inmates. I say that not to brag, but to emphasize how important our work truly is. I love my job.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Hopefully, a few people will agree with me on this, but I say that entrepreneurs have a duty to give first. Give before you take. Give before you think of your own payday. Think of your employees, your country, and those in need before yourself.
While this is a nice sentiment, in reality, most of us think about ourselves without realizing it. Fortunately, my grandfather showed me what integrity and empathy looked like, and that meant servant leadership.
I think every CEO should not only give back, but make that a priority. If you aren’t giving back, then your priorities are backward.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Optimize, optimize, optimize. Corporativo Kosmos didn’t grow to be one of the largest companies in Mexico by resting on our laurels. As the CEO, you’re in charge of driving the ship. If you aren’t steering towards new horizons, you’re stagnating, and that means you can’t grow.
I optimize my brands, even when I think I can’t optimize them any more. I’m probably a bit overambitious, actually, but I have an amazing team at my side that helps us grow. I’m there to challenge my team’s belief in what’s possible, and to push the company to do even better.
And I have big hopes for Corporativo Kosmos. Right now, we’re one of the 100 most important companies in Mexico. I want to make it to the top 50 list, and that means we have even more work to do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It sounds like such a simple thing, but focusing on quality got us to where we are today. My grandfather didn’t become successful by taking shortcuts, and that means we don’t take shortcuts, either.
Maybe it sounds like lip service, but we really are delivering a better experience, infrastructure, logistics, and pricing than our competition. I truly believe we deliver food service better than anyone else in our industry.
Basically, a focus on constant improvement and unrelenting standards has grown our business. For example, in 2004 we pivoted to serve canteens. In 2008, we expanded into catering and hotel service. It’s only up from here for Corporativo Kosmos, and I have our dedication to quality and improvement to thank.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I don’t classify this as a failure, but it was a big challenge. When my grandfather passed away, I was handed a huge responsibility to carry on the family business. And it wasn’t just a business—this is my grandfather’s legacy, his vehicle to give back to the people of Mexico. It was an imposing challenge to take on my grandfather’s company and try to grow it, all while honoring our roots.
I think I’ve done my grandfather proud. Over time, we’ve learned what works and what our clients need. We identified gaps in the market and filled those needs, which allowed the business to transform into the modern enterprise that it is today.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think sustainable businesses are the future. We’ve launched a few sustainability projects with Corporativo Kosmos, but I think sustainability-focused ventures are the next big thing. If we can build a better battery, better solar panels, or more efficient water conservation solutions, we can save so many lives around the world. Life would be so much better for everyone. And the demand is there, too. You just have to build a better mousetrap.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent went to charity. Corporativo Kosmos donates meals to those in need across Mexico, and I want to support those initiatives. Give back if you can. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; charities can do so much with $100. If you can’t give money, give your time. CEOs have so much value to offer the world.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t actually a technology. The tool that helps me stay productive is actually my team. I try to have a people-first mentality, which comes down to empowering my team. When they focus on the day-to-day tasks, I can focus on the long-term vision, which is crucial for any CEO.
I will say that you have to invest in training to maximize your teams’ talents. I want my team to be in constant competition with themselves, on a constant journey of improvement. That means I need to support training initiatives if I want the most productive, streamlined team in Mexico.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Gospel Of Wealth by Andrew Carnegie. I love this book. It talks about how self-made entrepreneurs are indebted to give back to society. I’m lucky enough to have inherited my grandfather’s legacy, but I’ve still seen tremendous growth during my tenure at Corporativo Kosmos. As the company has grown, I’ve made it a point to give that wealth back to the people of Mexico. My grandfather was a selfless man. I can only hope to follow in his footsteps and continue making positive change through my business.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is the mission statement for the Pablo Landsmanas Foundation: “For you, for them, for Mexico.” I live and breathe this because it encompasses what my work is about: providing food, health, education, and sustainable development to the people of Mexico.
- CEOs have a duty to give back: Jack funnels a large percentage of funds into charitable work through Corporativo Kosmos. He says CEOs are bound by an honor system to give back when they’re in a position of privilege.
- Invest in your people and they’ll invest in you: Jack doesn’t use fancy software or tools to be productive. Instead, he trains his team so they feel empowered enough to run the daily business as he focuses on big-picture strategy.
- Quality trumps everything: Don’t cut corners. Legacies aren’t built that way. Take pride in your work and let the passion guide you to create a better business.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.