Richard Montañez is a living proof of the American dream. Born in Mexico to a poor family, he invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and now is the Executive Vice President of PepsiCo. Here’s his inspiring story.
Born in Mexico and grew up in Guasti, CA, Richard Montañez dropped out of school because he had trouble learning English. Without a high school diploma, the only work he was able to get was janitor at the Frito-Lay Rancho Cucamonga plant in California.
One day, while he was working at the factory, one of the assembly line machines broke and therefore, some Cheetos didn’t get dusted with the bright orange cheese powder. Richard took the Cheetos and when he got home, he put chili powder on them. When he tasted his “chili Cheetos”, they were delicious! (the article continues after the ad)
The next day, he took his creation to the office where everybody loved it and encouraged him to talk to the plant’s supervisors about it. He did, and the supervisors called the President of the company and arranged a meeting with the management team in order for Montañez to give a demonstration of his product.
He had two weeks to prepare himself. This was actually his very first presentation ever and not knowing what to do, he went to the public library and copied a strategy from one of the business books. He bought his first ever tie (ti cost him $3 and he managed to tie it with the help of one of his neighbors), put his Cheetos in sample bags and went to the meeting.
When the executives tasted the chili Cheetos they were thrilled. They immediately ordered the factory to create the chili mix and the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were born. Today, Richard is the Executive VP of PepsiCo, a motivational speaker and a best selling author. He also provided consultation for marketing promotions aimed at Hispanic target groups for KFC and Taco Bell.