How Linda Alvarado went from manual labor to become one of the richest self-made women

 

How Linda Alvarado went from manual labor to become one of the richest self-made women

If you like the topic, please do not forget to write a comment to motivate us to continue

Linda Alvarado makes her way to her seat at Major League Baseball's 2021 All-Star Game in politician-like fashion, pausing to embrace or chat with everyone from Roy at the concession stand to Colorado Rockies CFO Hal Roth. She pulls up a photo of herself with the late Hall of Fame slugger on her phone as a pregame tribute to Hank Aaron begins. She declares, "Baseball is in my blood." Alvarado is more than just another uberfan, dressed in a purple suit that matches the Rockies' prominent jersey color. She joined the team's founding investment group in 1991 at the request of Colorado's then-governor, Roy Romer. Her ownership interest was a meager 1%, but it was significant: she was MLB's first Latina owner and the first self-made female owner. She claims, "It wasn't my husband." "It was my fault." "It's all about me.

Read also

How to Become a Billionaire – 7 Characteristics of the Rich & Wealthy

What is the best way to start a small business from scratch? small business



Alvarado's power—and wealth—have only grown since then. Her imprint may now be found all around Denver. Her company, Alvarado Construction, was responsible for the construction of Mile High Stadium, the home of the Denver Nuggets, and Denver International Airport, among other landmarks. It has also constructed the majority of Palo Alto Inc.'s 258 Yum! Brands restaurants (Taco Bells, Pizza Huts, and KFCs), which are owned 51 percent by Alvarado and 49 percent by her husband, Robert. That last enterprise is responsible for the majority of her $230 million fortune, making her one of the country's top 100 self-made women.


Alvarado attributes her success to her refusal to be influenced by "standard thinking." That's what's prompted her to try out a number of innovative ideas, including a new Taco Bell design for congested metropolitan areas that places the kitchen on the second story and uses a conveyor belt system to robotically load trays and carry them to the floor below.

Alvarado's background is far from ordinary. Linda Martinez was born in a two-room adobe house outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1951. There was no running water except when it flooded every summer. She chuckles, "I thought everyone went to the Red Cross for summer vacation."

Alvarado's parents were natural builders. That adobe house had been built by her father, a Protestant priest from Mexico who worked security at Sandia National Laboratory. "Empieza pequeo, pero piensa muy grande," her mother would say over and over, almost as if it were a chant (start small, but think very big).

The Martinezes' commitment to protect their daughter from "women's" home labor so she may focus on academics was even rarer than their immigration drive. Alvarado was expected to play sports with her brothers as the youngest of six siblings and the only girl. Her father would say, "You've got six kids, you've got a team." Alvarado's mother went to school to protest when a high school coach told her that girls couldn't compete in the high jump. Alvarado earned the high jump and the Girl Athlete of the Year title, which was given to her in recognition of her accomplishments in a variety of sports, including softball.


As a result of his physicality, Alvarado took a critical step toward a construction career: She turned down an administrator's offer to work in the library or cafeteria while studying economics on scholarship at Pomona College in California and instead opted to join the grounds crew. "I don't have to wear these terrible girl shoes," she claims she justified her decision. You'll pay me to work with all these single men if I get a tan."

After graduating in 1973, Alvarado used her groundskeeping knowledge to secure a job with a Los Angeles construction management firm. That, and a little deception—she thinks she landed an interview because she disguised her gender on the application by using only her initials. It's a technique she'd employ in the future when signing construction bids.

Some of the all-male construction laborers referred to her as a "spic chick" and left crude drawings of a naked Alvarado in the site's porta-potties. She decided she'd found a job after seeing a structure rise from the drawings.


She came to Colorado with her husband after taking courses in estimating, surveying, and computerized scheduling (their first date was a Dodgers game). She founded her own company in 1976, at the age of 24, hoping that her computer skills would give her an advantage. "I was told I was doomed because I was Hispanic and a woman," she recounts. "However, I reasoned, when you multiply two negatives in math, you obtain a positive." Alvarado's parents granted her $2,500 after six banks turned her down for a loan—without notifying her until after she'd paid them back that they'd borrowed against their home at a rate of 24 percent interest. She began slowly, as her mother had advised, filling gutters and sidewalks and erecting bus shelters. She eventually received a loan from the Small Business Administration. Joy Burns, who created the Women's Bank of Colorado, hired her to rebuild the 17-story, 80-room Burnsley Hotel in downtown Denver in 1983, and it was her big break.


Two ironworkers erecting a beam fell to their deaths as Alvarado Construction was building an office tower near Denver's airport in 1992, putting the company to the test. During the OSHA inquiry, Alvarado had to fend off other contractors who wanted to take over the job. "I had to re-establish my credibility," she explains.


Her construction company now has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico, and it works for Kaiser Permanente, Xcel Energy, and PG&E on projects.

Alvarado got into fast food practically by accident, despite her ambition to start a construction company. She was seeking to recruit a name-brand fast-food business to a shopping area she was developing in a run-down neighborhood of Denver in 1984. Taco Bell, which was owned by PepsiCo at the time, would not risk it. However, the Alvarados were granted permission to create a franchised location there, which Robert was eager to lead. When Taco Bell offered to buy it back a few years later, the couple declined and instead requested more stores.

Palo Alto is now the country's 28th-largest restaurant franchise operator, with $325 million in yearly revenue from locations primarily in Colorado, New Mexico, and California. Alvarado earned the respect of fellow franchisees, according to former Yum! CEO Greg Creed, by sharing "the techniques of the trade"—from the best materials for building units to more appealing LED lighting and drone inspections.

 Her construction company now has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico, and it works for Kaiser Permanente, Xcel Energy, and PG&E on projects.


Alvarado got into fast food practically by accident, despite her ambition to start a construction company. She was seeking to recruit a name-brand fast-food business to a shopping area she was developing in a run-down neighborhood of Denver in 1984. Taco Bell, which was owned by PepsiCo at the time, would not risk it. However, the Alvarados were granted permission to create a franchised location there, which Robert was eager to lead. When Taco Bell offered to buy it back a few years later, the couple declined and instead requested more stores.

Palo Alto is now the country's 28th-largest restaurant franchise operator, with $325 million in yearly revenue from locations primarily in Colorado, New Mexico, and California. Alvarado earned the respect of fellow franchisees, according to former Yum! CEO Greg Creed, by sharing "the techniques of the trade"—from the best materials for building units to more appealing LED lighting and drone inspections.

The Alvarados have tested everything from computerized ordering kiosks and dishwashers to entirely new restaurant formats, in addition to decreasing time for new restaurant development. They created a prototype of the Taco Bell Cantina idea, which sells beer and premium menu items and features sports on TVs in order to establish a family-friendly hangout spot. Alvarado is also experimenting with turning shipping containers into pop-up Taco Bells and has constructed a prototype of a Taco Bell offshoot called Live Más (named after the chain's marketing motto, it means "Live More").

When it comes to franchising, the Alvarados have a clear separation of responsibilities. Robert oversaw restaurant operations, but their oldest son, Rob, a Cornell hotel and restaurant school graduate with an MBA and a law degree, has recently taken over. Alvarado continues to be in charge of what she knows and enjoys: purchasing land and constructing structures on it. "I avoid four-letter words like cook, wash, and dust."



Comments