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Janitor Coming in Flamin’ Hot

Updated: May 2

April 6, 2024



Verde, the Green Janitorial Company, Teams with Latinos In Action to Sponsor Event with the Janitor Who Helped Launch Flamin’ Hot Cheetos


Press Release, April 6, 2024, Aaron Gilbreath


On Friday April 12 at 10 am, legendary Latino entrepreneur Richard Montañez will speak at Estrella Mountain Community College in Phoenix. Verde crew members and their kids can attend for free as part of the company’s Volunteer Time Off (VTO) policy.


Latinos In Action’s exciting, annual Youth Leadership Conference, co-sponsored by Verde, is designed to empower Latino youth through the incredible rags-to-riches story of the Frito-Lay’s janitor who influenced the world’s hottest snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and became known as “The Godfather of Hispanic Marketing.”


“As a Hispanic-owned and operated janitorial company, our people feel connected to Richard Montanez’s story,” says Jared Rivera, second generation Hispanic American and Verde Chief Financial Officer.


Don’t know Montañez’s story? Not to worry. If you like snacks, you’ve likely tasted his work.


During the years Montañez worked at a Frito-Lay factory, the company invited employees to propose cool ideas to management. Inspired by the street vendors in their Los Angeles neighborhood, Montañez and his wife Judy had an idea: Season classic Cheetos with the bold flavors of their Mexican American heritage. So Montañez took home a huge trash bag filled with unseasoned Cheetos to experiment with in their home kitchen. After Montañez cold-called Frito-Lay CEO Roger Enrico to pitch his invention, Enrico had him perform a formal presentation for other C-suite executives.


To prep, Montañez read library books about marketing, packaging, and product design. Remember, despite the popularity of snacks like chile-lime chips and Takis in 2024, in the early 1990s, the mainstream U.S. marketplace had very few Latino-inspired snack flavors.

Montañez’s presentation went well. Although there is debate about the exact behind-the-scenes details and timeline of the product’s origin, the market impact is clear: When Frito-Lay put a chili-infused Cheeto into production for the California and Midwestern markets, that product helped turn around the company’s fortunes, and it transformed Montañez from a janitor and machinist into an executive with in-demand knowledge of multicultural sales.


Inspiring, right? And that’s only the short version.


“It’s exciting to partner with Verde on this great opportunity for our youth and community,” says Dr. Jose Enriquez, CEO and Founder of Latinos in Action. “Latinos In Action and Verde hope that Montañez’s story will show Latino youth the many exciting, creative ways that they can seize the opportunities that are available to them as they continue their education and professional lives.”


“We believe that empowering stories of innovation, opportunity, and success like Montañez’s compliment a formal education,” says Rivera.


Verde has been actively involved in Latinos In Action since partnering with them last year. This spring, Verde is supporting Latinos In Action’s conferences in both Arizona and Colorado. Verde CEO Paul Sarzoza will host a workshop at the Arizona conference on April 12. Verde CFO Jared Rivera will host a workshop at the Colorado conference, at the Auraria Campus, on May 3. Both workshops center around the conferences’ theme “Stronger Together.”


“There are many paths to success. Sometimes you carve your own,” adds Rivera. “After all, Montañez started as a janitor.”


Want more information?


Eva Longoria produced a whole movie about Montañez, called Flamin’ Hot. You can watch it on Hulu.


Read Montañez’s book, Flamin’ Hot, is available in both English and Spanish.


About Latinos in Action

Latinos In Action (LIA) offers an asset-based approach to bridging the graduation and opportunity gap for Latino students, working from within the educational system to create positive change. Our program operates as a year-long elective course taught by a highly qualified teacher at the middle school, junior high, and high school level. The end goal of everything LIA does is to empower Latino youth to lead and strengthen their communities through college and career readiness. LIA accomplishes this by focusing on four pillars: leveraging personal and cultural assets, excelling in education, serving the community, and developing leadership skills. The LIA model has proven effective throughout the United States. In 2015, LIA was awarded the White House Bright Spot for Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Excellence in Hispanic Education.

Connect with LIA on Instagram, X, and YouTube.


About Verde Clean

Founded in 2019, Verde Clean is a Hispanic-owned and operated facilities services company focused on delivering cleaner, greener workplaces. True to the Verde name, which means green in Spanish, sustainability is at the heart of our company’s mission, vision, and values. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Verde has doubled in size nearly every year since its inception and is currently licensed to operate in 9 U.S. states and are positioned for rapid expansion to meet the increasing demand for our services.


Connect with Verde on LinkedIn and at VerdeClean.com.

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