I WAS born in Havana, but in 1959 my family left Cuba as the political regime was changing. I later became a naturalized American citizen.
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with my older brother, Arturo, who was named after my paternal grandfather, the president of Cuba's winter baseball league at the time of our move.
I shared that love of baseball and played in summer leagues and at school in Florida. I was an all-state catcher in high school. I also played on the baseball team and was recognized as an academic All-American at Cornell, where I graduated in 1979 with a degree in economics.
My first job was as a General Electric financial management trainee in Portsmouth, Va. Later, I became an analyst for the company's television business division.
In 1987, I went to work in Atlanta for the Coca-Cola Company's fountain division, which sold directly to restaurants and fast-food chains. I moved up to become the division's controller.
In 1995, Coke asked me to be chief financial officer for its bottling operations in Spain. I spoke Spanish and it was a great opportunity, but it would have meant moving my family. That wasn't an option since my two oldest children were pursuing their love of baseball.
So I left Coke, and came to work for HoneyBaked Ham in Georgia as director of retail operations. I was promoted through the ranks, and was named president in 2003. Three years later, I succeeded Linda van Rees as chief executive of the Georgia division and she became our chairwoman.
Linda is the granddaughter of Harry Hoenselaar, who invented a spiral-slicing machine and, in 1957, opened the first HoneyBaked Ham location in Michigan. He later split the company among his daughters into four divisions: Georgia, Ohio, Michigan and New England.
Last fall, HoneyBaked Ham of Georgia bought the New England operation, so now there are three divisions. We have 70 people in Alpharetta, and well over 1,000 in our stores. During peak seasons, our numbers grow fivefold; about 60 percent of our sales are made in November and December, and an additional 10 percent are made in advance of the Easter holidays.
We sell through company and franchise stores, catalogs and the Internet, which is a growing percentage of our business. We share a Web site with the other divisions. In advance of the big holidays, we also have pop-up stores inside some major grocery chains.
I am looking forward to our first international venture this fall: selling our bone-in hams in Japan, in partnership with Toranomon Ham.
Like other companies, HoneyBaked Ham of Georgia had difficult times in the economic downturn, which began to hit us in 2007. We had to close some stores then, but since 2009, we have grown each year, expanding to 200 franchise stores and nearly 115 company stores. We are in the middle of a three-year renovation of our company stores, adding dining areas to many of them.
My top priority is still my family. My wife, Laurie, and I have been married for 37 years. We have two boys and two girls, ages 21 to 33. One son is in the business, running two of our HoneyBaked cafe franchises.
I'm a born-again Christian, serving as chairman of the elders at the Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga. I have served on the boards of several local ministries.
I like to compete in triathlons. I have completed eight Ironman competitions, which means swimming 2.4 miles, bicycling 112 miles and running 26.2 miles -- all in the same day. Training is grueling and takes a lot of time, but competing is an amazing, rewarding experience.
As told to Elizabeth Olson.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.