A strong work ethic will always be important to Boyle Heights native Alfred Valenzuela. Brought up with Mexican-American heritage all his life, Valenzuela understood that it’s never about giving up and that it’s always about finding a way to put food on the table.

With his mother and brothers on top of him about the importance of school, and with his father always working hard in the railroad industry to provide a roof over their heads, the value of hard work were instilled into him early on in life. “The one thing I always take notice [of is] that you’ll never see a Mexican out on the street because we go out there and we work, we make it happen,” Valenzuela said.

Prior to starting I&N Vending, Valenzuela worked as a conductor engineer at BNSF Railway for nearly three years. During his time working in the railroad industry, Valenzuela enjoyed it because of the experience he gained from having family and community already in the industry. Although it did have its downsides, Valenzuela found himself being placed on call a majority of his time there.

“Being a young father and entrepreneur, it didn’t fit my schedule. It was just always on call six out of seven days a week,” Valenzuela continued, “It was 12-hour days, from 4 p.m. all the way to 4 a.m., or on the weekends.”

Alfred Venezuela and his two kids.

Along with working these long shifts, Valenzuela was also battling for proper custody of his youngest son. There have been times when Valenzuela was almost hit by trains or rail cars because of these court battles that have affected his mental health. Valenzuela explained that it felt like an uphill battle in the court system that took a toll on him mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.

“My mental state wasn’t there, I had broken my phone multiple times. I broke the windows on my car multiple times, coming out of court cases not being understood,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela shared his fears about coming up short and overthinking that he wasn’t setting the proper example for his kids. During these court battles, Valenzuela questioned if his life was even worth it because he felt like he was not getting enough credibility as a father and how much love he has for his children.

As June is celebrated as Men’s Mental Health Awareness, nearly one in ten men experience some form of depression or anxiety and are four times as likely to die by suicide every year compared to women, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Valenzuela constantly had to reassure himself that he was doing a good job as a father and that he was taking the right steps. After nearly three years of court battles, Valenzuela won 50/50 custody.

Through these experiences that Valenzuela had gone through, he realized that time was more important, learning to take responsibility for his actions and treating others the way they would like to be treated, which was the proper way to becoming a better man.

Valenzuela now spends his time making sure everything is in order for his vending company and ensuring that there are enough products and vendors for the day. Sometimes even putting on a vending shirt himself, strapping on products and going out there to sell the product himself. 

Michael Rendon, president of I&N Vending, said that Valenzuela has the energy and enthusiasm to overcome any obstacle that comes his way. Having known him for more than five years and being in business together for about two years, Rendon said that he noticed that Valenzuela’s curiosity has spiked and his willingness to try new things has grown.

“He’s learning to inspire his kids. [Alfred] wants his kids to not just prosper and benefit from his efforts, but wants his kids to grow and learn about what a solid work ethic is. What that looks like, what that feels like, and what that results in,” Rendon said.

Alfred Valenzuela and Michael Rendon posing at Atlanta Motor Speedway announcing in a post about the start of their company and securing their first NASCAR contract. Photo courtesy of Alfred Valenzuela

Seeing all that Valenzuela has accomplished at such a young age inspires Izabel Dueñas, a childhood best friend, to keep pushing to become better and accomplish bigger goals. Seeing how selfless Valenzuela has become since he had his first son just shows how humble he continues to be despite all the accomplishments Valenzuela has achieved.

“As the years have gone by, he’s made himself very selfless and has always put his sons first. He’s done everything humanly possible to be able to provide for them and give them that life that he wants for them and know that they deserve,” Dueñas said.

CALÓ NEWS interviewed Valenzuela to hear more about his journey as a father and what shaped him into the person he is today.



I started out working at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. and I would sell lemonade, kettle corn, churros and cotton candies. It sounds a little strange, but the business that I have is exactly the same. It gets paid through commission, which we still do to this day, so it’s not an hourly base job. 

I realized that we go off to work for our money. We don’t get hourly pay; we make commissions, so we work hard to make more money. If we don’t work hard, we don’t make money at all. 

I took that into consideration at such a young age, so I use that in anything else in my life. From being a father, being a business owner, to getting into real estate from the properties that I have. If I want to go out there to make money or the memories, I have to work hard at it. 

The business that I have is essentially the same thing. I started selling them in churros, alcohol, kettle corn, or any type of product that we could sell that the stadium granted to us and so far it’s been good. And that’s the catch of our business is that I don’t pay hourly I pay commission for my staff or my vendors


A good example is one of my stadiums, I have 60% of the contract, and the other 40% will go to the stadium. meaning that whatever we sell, 40% will go to the stadium and 60% will go to my business. Now, with our management team and our vendors, we get a certain percentage of the business. 

It offers growth. My business is an employee-owned business. It’s more of a company shares that you would have as the employees would grow with the company. However, we just started so we don’t have any shares. We don’t have any stocks, but what my business provides is growth and opportunity. 

By that, the vendors will get 15% to 20% of what they sell. My management team would be in charge of certain sections as far as the lemonade stands, alcohol stands, and concession stands, and they would get a certain percentage, the most being 5%. By doing that, they go in there, embracing the opportunity that we have. 

We grant them a percentage of the company at that event, and they go out there and get it done by making sure everything is aligned and the product is up to date. 

At the end of the day, it’s more like they don’t work for me; they work with me. We are continuously growing, and that’s the beauty of what I have to offer my business as an employee-owned business.


It’s about taking responsibility, and it’s something that I’ve learned. I became a father at such a young age that I realized that to become a man, you must take on responsibility. I never run away from the responsibilities that I’ve taken on, even if there are errors or if they weren’t errors.

A lot of people will look at me becoming a father at a young age as an error, but I looked at it as an opportunity, and I’ve grown from it. 

And I installed that in my business, allowing these workers to be part of the business and not just work for it. That’s the way I look at it, and it’s so far been great. I’m on my third contract right now, and we plan on growing more and just creating a lot of respect for a lot of workers, knowing that we’re in their shoes as well.


I was previously working at Angel Stadium and I currently work at Dodger Stadium, the StubHub Center, the Dignity Health Sports Park, where the LA Galaxy play. I work in BMO Stadium, which they just renamed; it used to be Banc of California, where the LAFC Soccer Team plays. I work at the Rose Bowl, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. I’ve worked in all the stadiums in California, Nevada, and Arizona. 

I haven’t gone further than that, but I have contracts out on the East Coast, and those contracts are with Speedway NASCAR at Bristol, Tennessee Stadium, North Carolina Memorial Speedway and I believe I have one more at South Carolina Motor Speedway as well.


What I’m trying to achieve is to grow and gain a lot of respect. I tell everybody, there’s enough money to make for everyone. I just plan on just growing and my workers—about 90 to 95% of them happen to be Latino. I’m very satisfied with the workers that came into my business; everybody fills in the gaps that are needed. 

The goals I’ve accomplished are being a father, buying my first house at 23 years of age for my family, building another house in the back to make it into a duplex for an ROI or return on investment, and starting my business. It doesn’t stop there, I still plan on bringing more of my business out here in the Los Angeles region. 

We have a tremendous amount of support for workers out here, it’s just the highest market out here in California. As we all know, it’s very expensive, so I decided to go where nobody else wants to go. We started further away from here, and you continued to progress into bars and clubs with the alcohol license that I’ve obtained from the east coast.

At the end of it all, I do want to start a foundation for incarcerated fathers who are trying to get back into their kids’ lives. I know what it is to be down but not out, and more importantly, I use a company like that to get fathers back into the kids’ lives so they can live through their children. If you live through your children, the possibilities are endless, and that’s something that I plan on making my ultimate goal at the end.


Don’t count yourself out. I was at a point where I was making 8% of the sales of the food and beverages I would sell, but I made a living off that 8%. What I mean by that is, even at 8%, someone gives you a percent, 2%, or a percent. You don’t look at it the opposite way, like oh man, it’s 90% that I might not make.

It’s a little confusing. So in the vending world, it’s commission based. When I go to buyers today, I make 20% of sales. So if an item cost is $10, 20% of that is $2 and the lowest I’ve ever made is 8%

[You may ask] ‘How can I make the best out of that? What can I do?’ I just started a few years ago, but I just kept telling myself to keep going: ‘Have a responsibility in your life; have a reason in your life.’ It’s gotten to where I’m at now, and I’m not done yet. 

The biggest thing in life is that you don’t get what you want; you get what you are. Everyone’s guilty of it; we all want wishful thinking. This is where we want to be, but there are certain people that really want it and they’ll go out there and do it.

Erick Cabrera is a freelance writer for CALÓ NEWS. He grew up in South Central and studied journalism at California State University, Los Angeles. Their reporting interests include local or investigative....