QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- It's a product you've likely walked by hundreds of times in the grocery store and you've probably never thought twice about where it came from.
Red Cactus Salsa is one of the few kinds of sweet salsa on the market and was started by a Quincy man who woke up one day with a dream that changed his life.
"For some reason, one day in early 1995, I call it a God given thing to put it in my heart and sell salsa," said Steven Lehenbauer, President of Red Cactus Salsa.
As simple as that, the Red Cactus brand was born in Quincy.
"I knew nothing about the food industry, never been in the food industry. I was in the insurance industry at that point," Lehenbauer said.
All Lehenbauer had was a family recipe for sweet salsa and a sudden urge to sell as much of it as he could.
$20,000 later, he got his first truckload manufactured and hit the local supermarkets.
"One grocery manager in the day who said do you realize it will be an act of God for you to breakthrough on a very competitive market," Lehenbauer said.
"16 years later he reminded me of that comment I said to him and it was very unsettling for me I guess," said Todd Musolino, County Market Store Director.
Todd Musolino was the store manager of one of the first County Markets to pick up the salsa. 16 years later, it's one of his best sellers.
"Steve's had a little sweetness to it. There's not many out there that have that kind of flavor so I think Steve hit a home run," Musolino said.
The Red Cactus Brand is now sold in 35 states and includes cheeses, chips, peppers and taco sauce. Lehenbauer has also branched out into barbeque sauces, jams, candy and believe it or not, pet treats.
"I've always said 1 if it wasn't truly in my heart and two if it wasn't a God given desire that felt like something else was working there, I probably would of given up," Lehenbauer said.
Lehenbauer's faith in himself, God and his product isn't hard to find, on every label on all of his products is a scripture passage and crosses. A reminder of where he started, and where he hopes to go.
Lehenbauer says he hopes one day to have his products sold not only in every state, but also be in every household throughout the country.
Click here to purchase Red Cactus products on-line.
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