Manuel Madrigal has come a long way since washing dishes in a California restaurant in the 1960s.

“I used to dream that I’d have my own trucks and a couple of guys working under me,” said Madrigal, 63, reminiscing about this second job for a construction cleanup company in 1967 following his days as a dishwasher. “But the dream came really, really, really soon!”

With the help of his family, the Las Vegas business owner has lived out his dream and has operated the Lunas Construction Cleanup Company since 1988. The company, which provides services ranging from the demolition of commercial and residential buildings to Dumpster rentals, entered the business of recycling when the price to drop off the garbage from their construction cleanups at local landfills increased from $20 per load to $150 in 1994. 

The family took it a step further this past April by opening a $2 million recycling facility at the company’s headquarters in Las Vegas.

“My sons, Noberto and Victor, started asking me questions, to do recycling" said Madrigal. “We started recycling in 1994 and 1995, but finally we got this building.”

And his children are doing more than just proposing ideas. One of his sons, Victor, serves as the vice president of the company and is in charge of the day-to-day operations. Victor’s twin brother, Noberto, handles finances and works as the treasurer. His daughter, Diane Vargas, works in the company’s payroll department. 

It’s safe to say, they’re keeping it all in the family.

“Whatever aspect of the business we do, we get together as a family and talk about it,” said Victor Madrigal. “We make educated decisions together.”

Those decisions are a lot easier when you’re pretty familiar with the employees.

“It’s easy communication,” said Vargas. “We know exactly what we can and cannot do.”

The family’s decision to build the recycling facility has been great for the local Latino community.

According to the elder Madrigal, the company started off with just three workers in 1988. But with the help of the new recycling facility and the company’s overall expansion over the past 20 years, Lunas now employs 100 individuals throughout Las Vegas.

"Half of their employees are Hispanic,” said Otto Merida, president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas. "But at the same time, it's [setting a business] example for them to follow."

Manuel, meanwhile, said none of it would have possible without the opportunities presented to him in the United States. His only obstacle was language, and even that wasn't enough to slow him down.

"Like I said, America is the greatest country for anybody who wants to be somebody," he said. "I came to North America to be somebody, and here I am."

And his presence here led to a business that takes pride in being run with a family feel. Relatives or not, the camaraderie trickles down to the workers who may not share the family name.

“They’re treated like family,” Noberto Madrigal said of the workers. “If there’s overtime, they’re paid overtime, and everything works out just right.”

Manuel Madrigal is excited about the future of the company and hopes his children remember that working together as a family is the key to success.

"Without my family we wouldn't have made anything,” said Madrigal. “I would not have made [the business] by myself."

Pete Griffin is a Junior Reporter for based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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