José and Mary Tamayo always had a family focus. After many years of working on the railroad in the Midwest, José and Mary retired in the 1970s and followed their five sons out to the West Coast where they had relocated to attend college. Soon an idea for a family business was born, and La Tortilla Factory, based in Santa Rosa, CA, came to life, a business that eventually settled on manufacturing tortillas.

“The brothers wanted to find a way to put their business degrees to use,” notes Sam Tamayo, vice chair of La Tortilla Factory and José and Mary’s grandson.

Through the years, the Tamayo family grew the business and integrated themselves into the thriving community of Sonoma County. Part of this focus on family and community has led La Tortilla Factory and the Tamayo family to support several outreach and community support programs.

“One of our core values at the company that my grandparents passed down to the entire family was to always give back,” says Sam. “Be involved in your community.”

In 2005, La Tortilla Factory began a collaboration with Social Advocates for Youth. This facility offers an affordable, safe place for at-risk children—some of which have aged out of foster care and have been homeless—to live and receive educational support, counseling, independent skills instruction, job readiness training and mentoring.

“They touch on things that are important to us,” notes Sam, “like education and job development.”

The Social Advocates for Youth transitional housing facility is now known as Tamayo Village. “Through the years, we have become pretty involved with them, and they honored us in the naming of that facility.”

Jeff Ahlers, president and CEO of La Tortilla Factory, recently served on the board of directors for Social Advocates for Youth. “It really has been a great partnership. And my decision to get involved directly was because I think it’s a good fit for us as an organization. I share the commitment that they make in this community.”

The company also established, in cooperation with 10,000 Degrees, the José & Mary Tamayo Memorial Scholarship, created to help students with the cost of attending a two- or four-year college, or a vocational school. Scholarships are based on academic performance and community or employment experience, as well as financial need. The company gives preference to children of employees, and some scholarship recipients have even landed jobs at La Tortilla Factory after graduation.

“Any time we can support our employees—their growth, their family and their education—that’s a win-win,” says Sam.


For the complete feature profile of La Tortilla Factory, documenting the company’s origins and growth through the years, see “La Tortilla Factory grows its national footprint while staying true to its roots.”