Ralph Torres gets double takes when he tells people he works for a cosmetics company. The Sandwich resident talked recently with reporter Debbie Behrends about his job with Ulta, how he got there and his involvement with the American Legion.
Behrends: Are you from Sandwich originally?
Torres: No, I’m from Gary, Ind. Jobs brought me here. We were on our way to North Carolina, but in this area I’ve lived in Cortland, Rochelle and Sandwich.
Behrends: Between Gary and Sandwich, did you go to college? Serve in the military? What were you doing?
Torres: I was going to school at Robert Morris College for engineering when the first Gulf War broke out. I decided to enlist in the Army, and I served from 1991 to ’98 at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Shafter in Hawaii. I was never deployed to a war zone, but I did travel a lot.
Behrends: What was your job in the Army?
Torres: I was planning to go into the infantry, but my parents convinced me to go into something that would help me with a career after the Army. I signed up as a cartographer, a mapmaker. I thought that would work well with engineering. I thought long and hard about making it a career, but I wanted to be home with my family more.
Behrends: Where have you worked since leaving the Army?
Torres: My first job was with Case IH in the farm-mapping division. I knew nothing about agriculture, but I knew about mapping and using satellite imagery software. I was involved in mapping for yield analysis, soil analysis, things like that.
I moved into the retail industry with Urban Retail Properties in Chicago as the head of market research from 2000 to ’04. Based on demographic information, I was able to tell them what tenants would be good in a location, good locations to build malls, that kind of thing.
I’m now doing the same thing at Ulta Beauty as manager of research. I do trade area analyses that help determine where to put new stores. Ulta has almost 700 stores.
Behrends: Tell me about your involvement with the American Legion.
Torres: I joined American Legion Post 395 in Plano in 2011 and I’m currently serving as junior vice commander.
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