130 years Celebrating Together

Mediterráneo: Boricuas designing the home of your dreams

Our home is our refuge. It's where we find the energy to recharge and create lifelong memories with our loved ones. And making home a space of our own, decorating it and filling it with life, is vital to that peace.

The process of finding the perfect piece of furniture is, without a doubt, a rewarding and fulfilling experience. And it is thanks to Mediterráneo, a local home goods brand found exclusively at Home Depot, that Puerto Ricans can create the home of their dreams. 

"We want to make style accessible to Puerto Ricans, so that when they walk into a Home Depot and see Mediterráneo, they know it's from here," said Alberto Zorrilla Cobián, president of AZC Distributors, Mediterráneo's parent company. 

Their goal is to create designs that are high quality and modern, yet accessible to most consumers. From modern bathroom vanities to opulent shower panels and kitchen cabinets, AZC through Mediterráneo is providing products designed and distributed in Puerto Rico in all local Home Depot stores, and over 60 stores in the United States.

Throughout the 1980's, Angel Zorrilla, Alberto's father, would travel to the Chicago area to attend hardware fairs. Already the owner of a company that manufactured window operators and distributed products such as Velcro and mouse traps, he dreamed of expanding into the distribution of hardware products in general.

By the 1990s, Ángel had successfully founded TAP Corporation, a distributor of hardware products, and it was there that Alberto's interest in the industry was born. 

"TAP was the family business, where we grew up and had ups and downs with the business as a family; I grew up there," Alberto expressed fondly.  

Inspired by TAP and with the support of his father, Alberto decided to follow in his father's footsteps by founding AZC with his brothers, Antonio and Ángel, in 2008. They named it AZC Distributors, a compilation of their initials: A for Alberto, Antonio and Ángel, Z for their paternal surname, Zorilla, and C for Cobián, their maternal surname.

The family business began distributing hardware items in large commercial chains such as Capri, Walmart, Ferretería National and supermarkets.  

In 2010 they made a radical change and began designing bath products and home décor items. This change came when Home Depot, an American home improvement store, approached them to create a line of bathroom furniture. From there, Mediterráneo was born and by 2014, they established exclusivity with the chain.

"We were in a unique position. We had the opportunity to not only offer our products in the largest home improvement chain, but we were also helping the chain adapt to the local market," Alberto noted. "In Puerto Rico, our taste is different, it has European influences and a luxurious style, and we helped bring that to the stores here. This style opened the doors for us to export it to stores in the United States."

-- Alberto Zorrilla Cobián

This exclusive opportunity allowed AZC Metropolitan Distributors to grow from a local company to having over 200 products available in dozens of stores in Puerto Rico, Florida and the Virgin Islands. Today, AZC Distributors has more than 120 employees, and from Puerto Rico they work in different roles, from product design to distribution.

This close relationship with the hardware chain has proven to be vital in difficult times. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, AZC found itself in a situation where it could not meet all of its employees' needs. For Alberto, it was crucial that his employees had jobs to keep their families afloat during this crisis, and Home Depot reached out and offered to temporarily relocate more than 25 employees to its Florida stores.

"We have a commitment to our employees and the families they support. I wasn't sure how to get people back to work, but we made it so they could continue to generate income while we worked to make sure they had a place to come back to," Alberto said.

Years later, with several natural disasters and a pandemic in between, AZC and Mediterráneo are at their best, and Alberto says his partnership with Popular makes it possible. Alberto has been a customer for more than 20 years, and Popular's unique products and personalized service available to business customers "make my life easier," he adds.

Alberto and his family have gone through many changes in recent years, most notably the death of his younger brother and partner in the company, Antonio, in early 2023. Carrying his father’s legacy and the memory of his brother, the entrepreneur looks to the future with optimism.  

Alberto is excited to keep moving his company forward, continue bringing new products and expanding his legacy with his children. 

"My dream is that one day, my children will take the reins of AZC and bring with them new ideas and dreams that will allow our company to continue to exist for more than 100 years, if possible," he said.

It all began with his father's dream of distributing hardware products in Puerto Rico. Alberto and his siblings expanded their dream to reach thousands of homes throughout the island, the United States and the Virgin Islands. Soon, the next generation of Zorillas will bring new dreams that will benefit the development of the company.

His loyalty to continue his father's legacy and his commitment to serve quality products to the Puerto Rican market are what make Alberto an agent of progress.

As part of our 130th anniversary celebrations, we present the Stories of Progress, which are portraits of commercial customers that show how Popular puts people at the center of progress.