Monte initially began his college education at Manhattan College in civil engineering, but once he realized he'd go the route of chemicals and plastics, his sturdy foundation could be applied to a chemical engineering degree.
He'd heard President John F. Kennedy on the radio urge kids to get into engineering, so that's what sounded good to Monte.
"I took up the challenge in engineering," he said. "It didn't matter what I did, I just loved school and I was good at it."
His parents sent him and his siblings to a Catholic high school in Brooklyn, which was where he sparked his love of learning.
"I took engineering — it was the hardest course to take — Brother Leo said to us the first week to look to your left and to look to your right and said, 'That guy won't be there next semester.' And, man, he was right."
He attributes having the solid foundation of a civil engineering degree to the rest of his career in chemical engineering — similar principles can be applied.
"I took civil engineering. I get a degree, a bachelor's degree in structures, raw materials, concrete, steel bars, reinforcement — all the things that the same thing happens in plastic, just different values, but it's the same principles," he said.
Then came the summer of chance when Erika's father asked him to fill in at his chemicals firm.
He worked the whole summer but went back to school for his civil engineering degree and married Erika.
Kenrich Petrochemicals then leased a 10,000-square-foot property in New Jersey in the hopes of making a resin for DuPont Co. that was used for wiring in New York City. The company had gone public in order to receive the contract for the resin but in the process had lost the controlling stake.
Not liking how the newcomers were handling the business, Monte's in-laws bought the business back.
"I wasn't working for [my father-in-law] then; I was in construction as a general constructor," he said. "Then I said the hell with it, I went back to the family business."
Monte joined Kenrich Petrochemicals in 1966 and soon realized he wasn't qualified to run the chemical plant and went back to get a master's degree in chemical engineering from Manhattan College.
I'm a creative guy, and we were making dispersions and I realized that I needed to improve the dispersion over 85 percent ... which is like making cakes, you know, [from] cookie dough," he said.
That chemical formulation is now in 680 cosmetic formulations, half of them lipsticks because it improves the long-lasting wear ability alongside the color.
In 1967, Monte began developing polymers for the U.S. military during the Arab-Israeli conflict.
American servicemen were being killed or injured by ammunitions detonating while inside tanks from an instability with an RDX explosive, loaded with cellulose acetate butyrate. He compared the material to that of screwdriver handles, which could be injection molded to produce a better product.
He realized he could add nanoatomic phosphorus titanium mono-oils on the interface of the RDX to slow the burn rate — and it worked. The process took eight years to get approval for the patent.
Monte can claim the name of 32 chemical patents over the years. The most recent patent being filed in March 2020.