Franco Montano works on putting together a wreath at his workshop on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Franco Montano works on putting together a wreath at his workshop on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Monroe man runs taco truck by day, makes 100 wreaths by night

Franco Montano, a former factory worker, started making the holiday wreaths in 2008. He has expanded into a thriving family business.

MONROE — On a night with temperatures around freezing, Franco Montano placed branches of noble fir, cedar and juniper in a metal ring on a table.

With his foot, he pressed a pedal to clamp the branches into place. He rotated the ring and repeated the process, working quickly and methodically, until he had a finished wreath. He planned to work until about 11 p.m. in his outdoor workshop.

It’s the busy season for Montano Family Wreaths, which makes holiday wreaths, garlands, swags and centerpieces. Montano runs the business with help from wife Danelia Rodriguez, brother-in-law Hector Rodriguez and his wife Mollie. The two families’ children also pitch in.

Franco Montano works on putting together a wreath at his workshop on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Franco Montano works on putting together a wreath at his workshop on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

It was chilly, but spirits were high, on a recent weekday night. The families, bundled in coats and gloves, worked in a large white tent in their driveway in Monroe.

Montano had returned from his day job running his taco truck, Tacos Monte Alban, in Snohomish. He got started on the night’s work: making 100 wreaths. He can complete the job in about three hours.

“It motivates me and I just like making wreaths,” Montano said in Spanish, with translation from his daughter Berenice, 18. “I enjoy making wreaths and being together (with family).”

Montano used to work at a wreath factory in Shelton. In 2008, he started making his own wreaths for family. He got his business license four years ago.

He now sells more than 1,500 wreaths plus thousands of feet of garland each season, filling orders Thanksgiving through Christmas. The decorations are sold at local Christmas tree farms, co-ops and Montano’s taco truck.

Montano buys the fir and cedar branches from friends who harvest them for larger wreath companies.

Inside the white tent, each family member works on a different task. Hector Rodriguez makes the garlands, feeding cedar branches into a spinning machine that wraps the leaves around a wire.

Hector Rodriguez runs the garland wrapping machine on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hector Rodriguez runs the garland wrapping machine on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

They purchased the machines from farms in Oregon and Idaho. Before the machines, Rodriguez explained, the family made the garlands manually, stretching a wire 100 feet and wrapping the branches around it.

Rodriguez said he finds the work peaceful. It’s also a chance for the two brothers to hang out.

“I think Hector and Franco have a really great time together,” Mollie Rodriguez said.

Stocker Farms in Snohomish is a main sales outlet. Montano Family Wreaths is the farm’s sole supplier of wreaths and garlands, Keith Stocker said.

“They put out an exceptional product,” he said.

The decorations don’t stay on the shelves for long. When they sell out, the business is quick to restock.

Finished wreaths in multiple styles available for purchase from Montano Family Wreaths on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Finished wreaths in multiple styles available for purchase from Montano Family Wreaths on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Some customers return just for the wreaths. Stocker said one repeat customer is a Lake Stevens man looking to decorate his dock. This year’s order: 24 small wreaths, one large wreath and 360 feet of garland.

While Stocker Farms has now closed for the season, the wreaths are for sale at other locations.

Montano hopes to work with more sellers in the future.

“We’re ready to grow our business,” he said.

Other family members bring their creativity to the table. Hector and Mollie Rodriguez’ daughter Luica, 12, crafts the centerpieces. She decorates them with gold pinecones and sprigs of silver berries.

Mollie Rodriguez works on assembling bows for wreaths at the workshop on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mollie Rodriguez works on assembling bows for wreaths at the workshop on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“I have fun with it,” Luica said.

The materials are all natural, aside from the bows and plastic berries.

“Our biggest costs are the darn red berries; they are hard to get,” Mollie Rodriguez said, explaining how a box of plastic red berries jumped from $25 to $75 in 2020.

The wreaths are expected to last through March.

Berenice Montano has seen her dad pursue wreath-making since she was 4.

“I like helping my dad,” she said. “I’m just proud of him and he just finds way to expand his business.”

Does her dad get tired after making 100 wreaths in three hours?

“No, not really,” he said, as he worked on building another wreath.

The Montano and Rodriguez families work together to assemble wreaths on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Montano and Rodriguez families work together to assemble wreaths on Dec. 5, in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Find Montano Family Wreaths

$35 for a 24-inch wreath and $50 for a 32-inch wreath. Larger wreaths, between 3 to 5 feet across, are also available.

Wreaths and more for sale at Tacos Monte Alban, 10203 Airport Way, Snohomish. Open 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Also sold at the Monroe Co-Op, 18422 Cascade View Drive, Monroe; and the Snohomish Co-Op, 168 Lincoln Ave, Snohomish.

Or arrange to pick up by emailing montanofamilywreaths@gmail.com.

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; jacqueline.allison@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @jacq_allison.

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