NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — We continue our Nevada Built series with a stop at the North Las Vegas Tortillas Inc. where the business is truly a family affair. 13 Action News Anchor Todd Quinones had the chance to tour the factory floor.
COOK WITH LOVE
The first thing to hit you on the factory floor is the wonderful smell of fresh warm corn tortillas. The second thing you notice, the warmth and kindness of owner Teresa Martinez.
"There's an expression when people are in their kitchens they cook with love. But I get the impression that's also true here," said Todd.
"Absolutely," said Martinez. "Absolutely. If you go out there and meet our team, they're our family."
In 1979 Martinez's dad Jose, a Mexican immigrant, struggled to get his business going.
Today Tortillas Incorporated employs nearly 140 people.
Their chips and tortillas, under the Los Arcos label, can be found in local grocery stores and the most popular restaurants on the Strip.
They tailor-make their products based on what the chefs want.
"Every chef wants their own brand. Their own style," explained Martinez. "Their own little niche, their own tortilla."
"They want it small. They want red. They want to green. They want it to look like a heart," she continued. "We actually have tortillas that look like a deck of cards. So everybody has a different taste."
To say this is a family-run business would be putting it mildly.
"My two daughters are here. My niece is here. My goddaughter is here. My brother-in-law and my husband. I hope I didn't miss any buddy. But they're all here," said Martinez.
But there is someone who is not here, her brother Gus.
A GREAT MAN
"My brother build this team. He was, he was, he was a great man," she said.
Late last year the beloved CEO of Tortillas Incorporated passed away from COVID.
"I got to just keep going. There's a lot of walls you run into. A lot of... sorry," said Martinez, her voice cracking with emotion. "I got to keep going."
To add to her heartbreak, she lost her mother a month later.
TESTAMENT OF STRENGTH
"To see what you're doing now to me is a testament of your strength and your character," said Todd.
"You know, I feel like sometimes why me? Am I being tested? The only thing I can think is that God has something, I'm here for something," she said. "I have a reason. I have a purpose."
"I don't know what it is," she confessed. "I get up every day and I say, 'I have to do this for my mom, I have to do this for my brother and I have to take care of dad.'"
All of it is weighing heavily on Martinez.
But despite all of that, she invited us in to not only share her struggles but also to share her family's triumphs and the pride that is here inside this North Las Vegas factory.
"Alright, so here we go. Fresh off the factory floor," said Todd opening a bag of chips at the end of the tour and holding it out in front of Martinez. "Ladies first."
"Oh, they're still warm. Cheers," he said, crunching into one.
"That's a good chip."