30 Years of the American Dream - From humble origins, Cobb-based Mirasco now serves clients on four continents
by Jennifer Hafer
September 09, 2013 12:00 AM | 2360 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mirasco CEO Saher Rizk with a portrait of his father and company founder, Latif M. Riz. The company now boasts revenue of $185 million. (Staff/Jennifer Carter)
Mirasco CEO Saher Rizk with a portrait of his father and company founder, Latif M. Riz. The company now boasts revenue of $185 million. (Staff/Jennifer Carter)
CUMBERLAND- "Go West, young man," was a popular 19th-century phrase concerning America's westward expansion, but for Egyptian-born Latif M. Rizk, going west eventually landed him in Cobb County, where he founded an international food distribution company that today includes sales offices and trade partners across four continents.

"As a young man, my father always dreamed about going around the world," said MIRASCO CEO Saher Rizk. "He didn't just want to stay in Egypt or the region. He was curious about how the world worked."

Founded in 1983, MIRASCO distributes frozen meat commodities and animal feed ingredients, primarily sourced from North and South American producers, to importers, distributors and further processors in key world markets. Its headquarters is located in the Cumberland area in the Circle 75 corridor.

"Typically, the countries we export our products to, their own production is not enough to meet their needs," Rizk said.

"We don't sell specialty products. We sell things like muscle meats and somebody will make sausages and hamburger meat out of that. Our products are for the mass population, and it's the lower, more economical products."

According to Rizk, MIRASCO's annual export volume is 110,000 tons, with revenue of $185 million. The company boasts 48 employees, 20 in Cobb County.

"When my dad arrived in the States, he was in his 40s, with a wife, two young children and a dream," Rizk said. "It was the '70s, and the U.S. government was interested in distributing frozen products in Egypt. They approached my dad, and he said, 'I would love to help, but I have no money.' The Department of Agriculture paid for him to go back to Egypt, and that's where it all began."

The elder Rizk was the first to introduce frozen imported beef and poultry products into the Egyptian market, Rizk said.

"At first, my dad didn't want my brother and I to get into this business," Rizk recalled. "He said we're in the United States now, you should be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer."

Being dutiful sons, Rizk and his younger brother, Sami, dabbled in medicine and engineering, respectively, but the die had been cast; MIRASCO was going to be the family business.

"I wanted to be in business because I thought what my dad did was really cool," Rizk said. "I started in pre-med at college, but it wasn't for me. I sat down with my dad and negotiated with him to go to business school, and I don't think I've ever had another job since that age."

Up at 4 a.m. every day to call overseas customers and check email, Rizk said some of MIRASCO's customers have been with them since the very beginning.

"This business is all about great relationships," he said. "My father did business with the first generation, and now we're seeing their children come into the business, and we continue to do business with them. These are relationships that go beyond buying and selling products."

Rizk said his father's legacy is one of a successful company built on great relationships around the world.

"He always wanted to make sure the people he dealt with benefited first, before him," Rizk said. "And, he believed, if he was successful at that, he would benefit beyond expectations."

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