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How a janitor invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, became an exec at PepsiCo

How a janitor invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, became an executive at PepsiCo []

Richard Montanez, the son of a Mexican immigrant, grew up in a refugee labor camp in Southern California. He and his ten siblings lived in a camel bedroom apartment with their parents before moving into an 800-square-foot three-bedroom home. “These experiments shaped it,” said the executive, who became the inventor of the Washington Post. I have a Ph.D. on being poor, hungry, and determined. I think when you experience these three things, there’s a lot of wisdom. When you become poor, there is a lot of innovation.

Montanez, now in its fifties, has been modern since grade school. He was embarrassed when his mother sent him to school with lunch on the first day of third grade. It’s from the 1960s, and at that time, “very few people saw a brewery, he writes in his memoirs, a boy, a burrito, and a cookie. I was at the funeral and everyone was staring at me. I put it back in my bag and hid it.

How a janitor at Frito Lay invented Flamin Hot Cheetos

Richard Montanez went from cleaning toilets. To be one of the most respected execs in the food industry. Early morning in the late 1980s, a group of high-powered officials. At Frito Lay, the CMO, CEO, and a platoon of VPs gathered. Listen to what Richard Montanez has to say in a conference room in California.

Montanez did not share their children. It was not an executive. He did not have a fancy degree. He was in fourth grade, and could not read or write. Montana was a porter. But he was a thoughtful janitor. An idea that would make the company billions of dollars. Become one of history’s most celebrated and iconic snack foods Hot Cheetos. The world had to be persuaded to listen to him.

Picking grapes

Montanez grew up in Guwahati, California in the 1960s. A small unorganized farming town 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Cucamonga Valley under the sun, his family’s mother, father, grandfather, and 11 children. Scraped together a meager living picking grape. And slept together in a one-room cinderblock abode at the labor camp. As a first-generation Mexican immigrant in an all-white school. Montanez had access to some resources and was struggling to understand his teachers. I remember my mother getting me ready for school and I was crying. “I couldn’t speak English,” he later told Laudride magazine.

One day in class, the teacher kept asking each child in the room. The name of his or her job is Dr. Astronaut. When he called Montanez, he froze. “I realized I hadn’t dreamed,” he says. “There was no dream of where I came from.” The area of Kakimonga Valley, in San Bernardino County, California. In which Richard Montanez grew up. Montanez soon stopped getting on the school bus. He began boarding the work truck with his father and grandfather.

After dropping out of school. He worked the fields in 110°F heat. He worked in the poultry factory doing strange jobs like slaughtering chickens, washing cars, and picking mourning clothes. With a 4th-grade level education and few economic opportunities. Montanez saw no path out of poverty. Then in 1976, a neighbor told him about a job opening. That would change his life.

There’s no such thing as just a janitor

Down the road in Rancho Kokimonga, the Frito-Lay plant was looking for a porter. At $ 4 an hour (ڈالر 18 in 2019) the job paid off a lot of what Montanez did in the fields. It represented better life insurance, benefits, and social mobility. To read or write, the 18-year-old hired his wife to help him fill out the application. He traveled on a dirt road, met a job manager, and got a job. When he got the news to his family, his grandfather gave him some advice. It will always be with him. Make sure the floor is shiny, the man told his grandson. And tell them that a Montanez has created it.

Montanez decided he had never seen Frito Lee. He quickly recognized his presence. Whenever he enters a room, he says, he smells fresh. I felt there was no such thing as a bodyguard. When you believe you are going to be the best. Frito Lee Plant in Bakersfield, California. Montanez also developed philosophy. It’s not about whom you know, it’s about who knows you.

Between shifts, he went out to see himself learn. About the company’s products as much as he could spend in the warehouse. He was watching the machines pick up trash snacks in the middle of the night alone. And finally, the result of his insatiable curiosity would be gone.

“I saw no products catering to Latinos”

By the mid-1980s, Frito Lay had fallen on tough times. As a way to cheer, then CEO Roger Enrico recorded a video message. And spread it to the company’s 300k employees. In the video, Enrico urges every employee of the company to act like a boss. Most employees dismissed it as an administrative arrangement. Montanez took it to heart. This is my invitation; here the CEO is telling me. Concierge, so I can act like a boss. I had no idea what I was going to do. It was not needed. But I knew I was going to act like the boss.

After nearly a decade of floating floors, Montanez mustered the courage to ask a salesman from Frito Lee. If only he could tag her and learn more about the process. They went to a convenience store in a Latin neighborhood. While salesmen closed inventory again, Montanez made a steady observation. I saw our products on the shelves and they were all plain” he recalls. And right next to these chips happened to be a shelf of Mexican spices. That moment he realized that Frito Lay had nothing spicy or hot.

A few weeks later Montanez stopped at a local vendor to get some elite. Mexican street corn is reduced to chili powder, salt, cottage cheese, lime juice, and cream fresco. A revelation in hand was killed. What if I put pepper on a cheetah?

Elliott, Mexican Corn Behavior That Affected Flemish Hot Cheetahs (via Vallarta Supermarkets) Introduced to the world in 1948, the Cheetos crunchy corn-based nougat was mixed with cheese. The flavored powder was a flagship product of Frito Lay. And when they were popular in California’s growing Latin consumer base. The company is yet to reconsider its taste profile. Remembering the Montenegrin, no one thought of the Latino market. But wherever I looked, I saw it ready to explode.

So, Montanez paid attention to the CEO’s words and acted like an owner. Working one night late at the production facility. He made some cheetahs that had not yet slept in cheese. It took them home and, with the help of his wife. He covered them in his own concoction of chili powder and other secret spices. When he handed them over to family and friends? Breakfast was served with global enthusiasm. It just needs a bigger audience.

So, he called the CEO

“I was naive,” Montanez later said. “ I didn’t know the rules, You didn’t have to call the CEO, I didn’t realize: “Roger Enrico’s phone number was easy to find. It was listed in the company’s directory. The line rang, and he was sent to the chief’s executive assistant.

“Mr. Enrico’s office. Who is this?”

“Richard Montanez.”

“Which division are you with?”


“Are you overseeing VP California?”

“No, I work at the Rancho Cucamonga plant.”

“Oh, so you’re the VP of operations?”

“No, I work inside the plant.”

“Are you the plant manager?”

“No. I am a watchman.

The assistant paused for what seemed to be the usual. “A moment.”

Then, the voice on the second line: “Hello, this is Roger.” Montanez told the CEO that he was acting on the call. He studied the company’s products, identified a demand in the market. He even prepared his first snacks in his kitchen. Enrico easily liked it: He told the janitor he’d be at the plant in 2 weeks. He asked him to prepare a presentation.

Shortly after Montanez hung up, the plant manager attacked him. “He said, ‘Who do you think you are? Who let the janitor call the CEO?’” recalls Montanez. “Then he said, ‘YOU’RE doing this presentation!’”

The birth of the Hot Cheeto

Montanez was 26 years old. He couldn’t read or write very well, in his words. He did not know how to formulate a business proposal. But he wasn’t about to give up. Accompanied by his wife, he went to the library, found a book on marketing strategies. And copied the first 5 paragraphs word for word onto transparencies. At home, she filled 100 plastic bags with her home remedies. He sealed them with a cloth iron and manually created a logo and design on each package.

On the day of the presentation, he bought a $3 tie — black with blue and red stripes. He had his neighbor knot it for him. As he gathered the bags, his wife stopped him near the door: “Don’t forget who you are.” Montanez stepped into the boardroom. “Here I was,” he says. ” During the presentation, an executive in the room intervened: “How much market share do you think you can get?”

 Montanez called back. But I opened my arms and I said, ‘There’s so much market share! I didn’t even know how funny it was. The CEO stood up and smiled and the room fell silent. ” Do you notice we have a chance” Too far behind this market share? “Spread your arms,”   he said, turning to Montanez. “Through away that stick, you’re coming with us.”

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Six months later, with the help of Montanez’s, Frito-lays began testing. Fleming ‘Hot Cheetos’ in small Latin markets. It’s in East Los Angeles. If it performs well, the company will move forward with the product. If that didn’t happen, they would scratch it. And Montanez will likely return to oversight. This was his one shot, and some folks didn’t want things to work out for him. “There seemed to be a group of [executives] who wanted to fail.” He later told the podcast. The Passionate few, “They thought I was lucky. They were paid a lot of money to come up with these ideas. They didn’t want any janitor to do it.”

A young fan’s Hot Cheetos bag (@ daliaabbas9, via dekagram) signs by Montanez. So, Montanez gathered a small team of family members and friends. He went to the test markets and bought every bag of hot Cheetos he could find. He reminded, “I’ll tell the boss, ‘Dude, these are great.’ “Next week, I’ll be back and there’s going to be a whole thing.” In 1992, Fleming Hot Cheetos were a green light for national release. 

From janitor to VP

 One of Frito-Lay’s hottest-selling commodities is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos nowadays. From Katy Perry to Middle Scooters, multi-billion-dollar breakfasts were celebrated on food vouchers by everyone. There is even a rap song about him. And Montanez is no longer a clean floor. During his 35-year career, the former defender joined the corporate ranks. Now, vice president of Pepsi America (Multicultural Sales), the company that runs Frito-Lay. Before joining the Montana executive team, Frito Lay had only 3 Cheetos products. Since then, the company has launched more than 20 launches, each priced at 300m +.

Newsweek and Fortune have recognized the most influential Spanish leader in the United States. Montanez is a skilled speaker who often travels the country taking notes. His story will hit the silver screen soon. Fox Searchlight Pictures is currently working on a biopic about his life, entitled “Fleming Hot”. He still lives in Rancho Kaka manga, where he gives back to his community. Through a nonprofit, she started and taught MBA classes at a nearby college. Recently, a student asked him how he was teaching without a Ph.D. He replied, “I have a PhD. I am poor, hungry, and determined.”

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