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Roberto Ramírez was born in Matamoros Tamaulipas, Mexico. When Roberto was nine years old, his father, Jesus, was the victim of a politically motivated assassination. Left to fend for themselves were Guadalupe, Jesus’ widow and her nine children. Fearing reprisals against her family, Guadalupe made the painful decision to leave Mexico and migrate to the United States where she joined an uncle living in Chicago.
To say that life was difficult for the Ramirez family would be a vast understatement. As a young teen and like many other youth, Roberto had dreams of pursuing a musical career and performed in a band at various local establishments. He spent his free time struggling to learn English. A few months later he was forced to abandon his musical dreams when his mother found out she would be unable to provide for her family on her own. At this point, Roberto made a conscious decision to leave school and his dreams behind in order to help support his family.
Roberto started out working 12 to 15 hour days at several part-time jobs until 1982 when he began working full-time as a janitor for National Cleaning Company. In 1987, after five years of hard work, he decided it was time to put those valuable years of experience to the test. He asked the owner of the company if he could further develop his talents in a sales position. The owner’s answer was not favorable. No one, including Roberto would know how much determination the word “no” would evoke in him, with little more than $20 needed to open a checking account and $100 he borrowed from his mother, Roberto founded TIDY , a full service, janitorial and custodial company serving commercial clients in the City of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.
Growth came slowly at first and the hours Roberto invested to make his dream a reality was plentiful. He found that by becoming involved with post-construction clean-up jobs of new buildings, he could often find additional contract work with the new tenants of those same buildings. Finally, resulting from his commitment and relentless pursuit for success, TIDY. began to grow. In 1996, just six years after starting his company, Roberto and TIDY were honored with the “Chicago Hispanic Business of the Year” award presented by the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA). Later that year, Roberto was officially granted U.S. citizenship. Soon after, he was elected to the HACIA Board of Directors.
Roberto founded the Jesus-Guadalupe Foundation in 1997. Named after his parents, (Jesus his father and Guadalupe his mother) the foundation, under Roberto’s leadership, has awarded more than 167 scholarships totaling over $300,000.00 to successful students in more than 20 colleges and universities throughout the United States. Some of the more recent scholarship recipients attend Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. where Roberto serves on the Board of Trustees.
In 1998, TIDY appeared in the July/August Issue of Hispanic Business as one of the fastest growing Hispanic companies in the United States. Roberto’s business revenue began to be measured in millions. In 1999, Tidy received the Small Business of the year award, by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. In 1999, Roberto went back to the same high school he had left many years ago as a young man and received his high school diploma. In 2000, Roberto was named by Illinois Governor George Ryan to the Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment. At the same time, Roberto was elected to the Board of Directors of Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), a national organization based in Berkley California.
A shy individual, Roberto does not discount his hard work which has resulted in his business growth but he always credits others. “I have been lucky and blessed and there have been so many people who have believed in me and in what I have wanted to accomplish.”