The story of the entrepreneur who lost his job and became a millionaire with a hot sauce company

The story of the entrepreneur who lost his job and became a millionaire with a hot sauce company

At the age of 16, he lost his job as a construction helper and thought about emigrating to the United States in search of opportunities, but his father convinced him to stay in the country and start his own business. Full of skepticism, he decided to follow his father’s advice and began producing homemade sauce. Today, your company is one of the most beloved in Mexico, it sells more than 100 thousand sauces a day, has a turnover of more than 13 million dollars annually, and exports to various countries, including the United StatesCanada, and Spain … How do you do it? achievement?

The story of Roberto López Flores, founder of Salsa Huichol

The protagonist of this story is Roberto López Flores, who was born in 1933 in the municipality of Xalisco, located in the state of NayaritMexico.

It all started in 1949. The 16-year-old young Roberto worked as an assistant in the construction sector, but, after finishing their job, his boss fired him and gave him 40 Mexican pesos at the time as settlement, equivalent to about $50 current dollars.

Frustrated by what happened, he thought about emigrating to the United States in search of the so-called “American dream,” so he went to talk to his father to tell him. Don Cayetano, his father, suggested that he not leave, that it would be better to stay. Roberto looked at him and said: “But what am I going to support myself?”, to which Don Cayetano responded: “Let’s make salsa. ”

Don Cayetano learned to make hot sauce thanks to his parents, who had established a cantina called “El Milagro”, in the city of Tepic, capital of Nayarit. His father was in charge of serving drinks and serving customers, while his mother prepared the hot sauce to serve as an accompaniment to botanas, which are appetizers that are usually given in Mexico to share before main meals or to accompany a drink. This sauce was one of the biggest attractions of the place.

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When his mother died, Don Cayetano found it necessary to learn how to prepare salsa to help his father in the cantina, but eventually, the place was closed and Don Cayetano only prepared it for his consumption or to share with his friends.

When Roberto became unemployed, Don Cayetano decided to pass on the recipe to him so that he could continue the legacy that his mother had started. She told him to go to the store and, with the money received from the settlement, buy 1 kilo of Cora chili, condiments, and empty bottles, and to look for a hand grinder.

Although Roberto was very skeptical about it, he still listened to him and went to get everything he needed.

“I didn’t have much confidence in that little business, but out of obedience I listened to him.” -Roberto confessed .

Starting your own hot sauce business

With the money invested, he managed to produce a total of 40 bottles of sauce. This is how the company “Salsa Cora” was born, due to the type of chili it used, but it would later change the name to “Salsa Huichol” to honor the culture originating from the Nayarit region.

To sell them, Roberto went out on his bicycle offering them in cantinas and inns in the area. In just a couple of hours, he managed to sell everything he produced.

Excited by the results, he reinvested the profits in producing more sauces, following his father’s recommendations to the letter.

Little by little, the sauce began to become very popular. Customers increasingly demanded a greater quantity of the product.

Initially, the entire production process was completely manual. Roberto was in charge of grinding the ingredients, packaging, and labeling the bottles. The factory was installed in his own house; He even remembers that, at times, he and his six siblings could not sleep because the smell of chili was so strong and filled the rooms.

At that time, during the week Roberto was in charge of production, and on weekends he went out to sell.

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By 1955Huichol Salsa was already the best-selling in the entire state of Nayarit, so the company set out to expand to other markets. Roberto made the deliveries in an old car that his uncle had inherited from him.

In the following years, it expanded distribution to SinaloaSonoraBaja California, and other states in the North Pacific area.

Consolidation and expansion of Salsa Huichol

As the demand for the product increased, he saw the need to mechanize production, which was a huge challenge for Roberto because he enjoyed producing by hand, just as his father taught him; however, this was necessary to continue growing.

In 1979, the company took a huge step in its expansion plans by starting exports to the United States. Later it would also reach Canada and some European countries.

Huichol Salsa, with flavor, consistency, and tradition, gradually made a space on the table and in the hearts of its customers, becoming one of the best-known and emblematic products of Mexico.

For decades, Roberto refused to make any changes to the original recipe of the sauce, but finally decided to innovate and four new flavors have already been launched that accompany the traditional Huichol Salsa, which maintains the original recipe with which started the company. The new flavors are HabaneraBlackLemon, and Botanas. Each of them with a particular flavor to accompany various types of foods and to challenge even the most sophisticated palates, but all guaranteeing exceptional quality and the use of 100% natural ingredients.

In 2014, the company began to invest in the installation of solar panels to produce its energy and be a more ecological and self-sustainable company, in addition to achieving a reduction in its operating costs.

As the company grew, Roberto received proposals from large companies interested in buying Salsa Huichol, but he did not accept any because he wanted it to continue being a family business, considering that a key factor in its success is precisely the work and support from his family.

“I gave myself completely to this business, and with satisfaction we are acquiring very nice markets, incredible markets that are buying our product. It’s hard to get to that level, but we got there. There are no luxuries here, there is no Audi car or a Mercedes, or things like that, everything is dedicated to growth and the purchase of updated equipment.” –Roberto said in an interview.


The legacy of Roberto López and Salsa Huichol

On October 27, 2019, after a lifetime dedicated to building one of the most beloved companies in MexicoRoberto López died at the age of 86, leaving a legacy that is now managed by his son and grandchildren. The successful businessman was fired with this message on the company’s social networks:

“70 years ago, Don Roberto López began writing a story that redefined the flavors of his native Nayarit and all of Mexico. Today we honor his memory, we say goodbye to him as the great man he was and we celebrate the immense legacy that he leaves us with Salsa Huichol. Rest in peace, Don Roberto.”

Currently, Salsa Huichol processes 800 tons of chili annually, sells more than 100,000 bottles of sauce a day, generates employment for about 20 people, and has a turnover of more than 13 million dollars annually. Its products can be found in self-service stores, supermarkets, and transnational stores such as WalmartSam’s, and Comercial Mexicana, among others. In the future, the company plans to develop new salsa flavors and continue expanding into other markets to bring the flavor of Mexican salsa to the entire world.

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Thus we conclude the inspiring story of Roberto López Flores, a determined, persistent, and passionate entrepreneur who, at a crucial moment in his life, decided to stay in his country to create a business and generate opportunities for other people, thus becoming a reference for all those that they are undertaking today to promote the economic growth of their countries. In his own words:

“Mexico needs more entrepreneurs, not employees. Because arriving and putting your hand in to receive the fortnight is very easy, but this can make you mediocre. Everything is easy to say, but it is difficult to decide… because very few decide to do something, something unknown, something that did not exist.”


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