Hispanic entrepreneurs walked the red carpet last month for Hispanic Business Magazine's 14th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Gala. Nearly 500 leaders and luminaries gathered for the black-tie ceremony at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles to pay tribute to the Business pioneers at the forefront of the U.S. Hispanic economy.
|Lifetime Achievement Award Winner|
|Finalists in all categories|
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Professor Marta Tienda is the Maurice P. During '22 Professor in Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where she directed the Office of Population Research. She has held appointments at the University of Chicago, where she served as Chair of Sociology, and the University of Wisconsin.
In addition to her prodigious academic achievements, Professor Tienda works tirelessly to better her community through the advancement of public policy and philanthropy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is past president of the Population Association of America, and has served on the boards of the Center for Migration Studies, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Currently she serves as a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Princeton Medical Center, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Jacobs Foundation of Switzerland. She also has worked with the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
She chairs the National Academy of Sciences Panel on the U.S. Hispanic Population and has co-authored several books, including The Hispanic Population of the United States (1987), Divided Opportunities (1988), The Color of Opportunity (2001), and Youth in Cities (2002).
Hispanic Business magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award winner is chosen from among hundreds of influential and powerful Hispanic leaders around the country. It honors an individual who has exhibited noteworthy national influence and prominence, outstanding drive, sustained high-level career achievements, leadership, innovation, vision, and civic service. This year's award highlights the field of academia, recognizing the vital importance of today's Hispanic educators in building a foundation for tomorrow's community leaders and entrepreneurs and in bringing national attention to the Hispanic community and its achievements. (back to top)
Marcos A. Rodriguez
Founder and Managing Member
Palladium Equity Partners LLC
Mr. Rodriguez is founder and managing member of Palladium Equity Partners LLC, a New York private equity firm that invests in middle-market companies positioned to serve the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic population.
The principals of Palladium Equity Partners have invested nearly $1 billion in more than 30 companies. Since its founding in 1997, the firm has grown annual revenues to nearly $1 billion last year, ranking it No. 5 on the Hispanic Business 500® listing of the nation's largest Hispanic-owned companies. Currently, the firm manages more than $230 million in equity capital.
Mr. Rodriguez, who has more than 15 years' experience in private equity, previously was a partner at Joseph Littlejohn & Levy, a buyout firm he joined in 1989 where he was responsible for spearheading a number of major investments.
Mr. Rodriguez serves on the Board of Directors of Palladium portfolio companies Haden International, The Hilsinger Company, Phibro Animal Health, and Wise Foods. In addition, Mr. Rodriguez is a member of the New America Alliance, and serves as Chairman of the Development Committee and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of The Robert Toigo Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting advancement of minority business students and alumni within the finance industry.
Mr. Rodriguez earned his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a master's in international studies from The Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. (back to top)
Melinda Guzmán is a partner at the Northern California law firm of Goldsberry, Freeman, Guzmán & Ditora LLP. As an attorney, she has represented venture capital firms and individual entrepreneurs in mergers, acquisitions, and collections litigation. Ms. Guzmán serves in a number of other professional capacities as well, including chairwoman of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, a position in which she is serving her second term. Appointed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Board of Trustees for the California State University system, she also serves on the boards of Pac-West Telecomm Inc. and the Nehemiah Corporation of America, which provides down-payment assistance to first-time home buyers. The National Association of Women Business Owners has presented her its Luminary Award for leadership in business. (back to top)
FINALISTS IN ALL CATEGORIES
RALPH L. CRUZ and WILLIAM R. CRUZ
Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs
TradeStation Group Inc. At the age of 18, Bill Cruz persuaded his brother Ralph to join him in pooling their life savings and opening an investment account. While they lost nearly their entire investment, they gained a valuable lesson: Popular investment theories don't always work. Years later, in 1982, the two brothers launched Omega Research Inc. (later renamed TradeStation Group Inc.), basing their enterprise on the idea that computer technology and historical data can be combined to test investment strategies. System Writer, their groundbreaking software product for Microsoft Windows, allowed traders to remove fear and greed from investing. The software evolved into TradeStation, which has been widely embraced by investors since its introduction in 1991. Bill manages the company's product conception and management, while Ralph handles marketing strategies. (back to top)
NINA G. VACA
Pinnacle Technical Resources Inc. Nina Vaca founded Pinnacle Technical Resources in 1996. With core competencies in enterprise data warehousing, custom application development, and call center technologies, Pinnacle's clients now include AT&T, Verizon, Citigroup, AOL, and IBM. The company has about 350 employees in 15 cities across the United States. Ms. Vaca serves as chairwoman-elect of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and is on the board of directors of the Women's Business Council-Southwest. She recently was honored by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as the National Hispanic Businesswoman of the Year. (back to top)
CYNTHIA ANNE CASTILLO
CSSI Inc. After starting her career at the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1987, where she was commended for developing advanced financial management methods, Cynthia Anne Castillo took over in 1993 as CEO of CSSI Inc., a premier technical services company that specializes in systems engineering and program management for the transportation industry. Since then, she has secured major contracts with the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of State's Trade and Development Agency. Ms. Castillo won the Air Traffic Control Association's Small and Disadvantaged Business Award for three years in a row starting in 1998. (back to top)
ROBERT DOMINGUEZ JR.
President & CEO
Ambreco Inc. Raised in a family engaged in concrete construction, Robert Dominguez Jr. founded his own general contracting company in 1992, naming it Ambreco after his three sons, Adam, Bret, and Cole. Located in Belton, Texas, the company handles all phases of military construction with clients including the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2003, the U.S. Small Business Administration honored Mr. Dominguez as the Minority Small Business Person of the Year for the Dallas/Fort Worth District. He also has been nominated to receive the Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Businessman of the Year award. Mr. Dominguez has served three terms as a Belton City Councilman. (back to top)
JORGE M. PEREZ
Founder & Chairman
The Related Group of Florida Founded in 1979, The Related Group of Florida builds and manages multi-family housing and mixed-use development in South Florida. Over the past 35 years, the company has built and managed more than 50,000 units, and its current portfolio of more than $6 billion in assets generates annual revenues of more than $2 billion. Founder and Chairman Jorge M. Pérez is a member of organizations including the Miami Downtown Development Authority, the University of Miami Board of Trustees, and the Union Planters Bank/Regions Financial Board of Directors. He has won numerous awards ranging from the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year 2004 to Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year 2002. (back to top)
GREGG T. REYES
President & CEO
Reytec Construction Resources Gregg T. Reyes, owner and president of Reytec Construction Resources, has been in the construction industry for more than 15 years and developed numerous construction projects in the Houston area. Through his extensive experience, Mr. Reyes has established important contacts within the industry and has used these contacts to obtain key business referrals, while advertising in industry newsletters and trade journals. His ability to identify and employ qualified individuals has enabled Reytec, which he founded in 1996, to provide the necessary expertise to flourish in the Texas market. (back to top)
CARLOS M. DE CESPEDES / JORGE L. DE CESPEDES
Chairman & CEO / President & COO
Pharmed Group The Pharmed Group is the largest independent distributor of medical, surgical, pharmaceutical, and rehabilitative supplies in Florida. Carlos de Cespedes and his brother, Jorge, established the Miami-based company in 1980 and have since guided its growth into the largest Hispanic distributor in the United States. In 2003, the company surpassed $590 million in revenue while distributing more than 25,000 product brands. Pharmed was honored by Ernst & Young as Florida's "Entrepreneur Company of the Year" in the medical category. Pharmed also won the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce 2001 Cutting Edge Award. (back to top)
HENRY N. ADORNO
Founding Shareholder & President
Adorno & Yoss Henry Adorno co-founded Adorno & Yoss, the largest minority-owned law firm in the country and the only law-firm member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council's Corporate Plus group. With more than 250 attorneys, the firm provides legal services to clients ranging from governments and Fortune 500 and publicly traded companies. Mr. Adorno, formerly chief assistant state attorney to Janet Reno, was recently asked by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to gather community leaders and take on a project to privatize foster care in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. (back to top)
TerraHealth Inc. TerraHealth manages a team of consultants that provides executive-level support on health-care system analysis, program development, and other related services. The San Antonio, Texas, firm has blossomed under the leadership of President Anthony Terrazas, growing by 208 percent in 2002, 617 percent in 2003, and then doubling again in 2004. In 2003, the company received the San Antonio Chapter Rehabilitation Association's President's Award, and this year it was named Brooks City Base Contractor of the Year. Before joining TerraHealth, Mr. Terrazas was regional director for Continuum Healthcare System Inc., with responsibility for two hospitals, two mental health outpatient centers, two medical clinics, a transitional living center, and construction projects. (back to top)
President, Providence Pediatric Medical DayCare Inc.
Founder & President , Hispanics Impacting Public Policy
Leeanna Román has earned international recognition as a tireless advocate for Hispanic- and women-owned businesses. She is president of Providence Pediatric Medical DayCare Inc., a New Jersey business that surpassed $3.6 million in sales in 2003. She has participated in a White House Health Care Roundtable and led conference calls with the 2004 presidential candidates. Her entrepreneurial spirit and advocacy work has earned her multiple honors, including a National Hispanic Heritage Proclamation and the 2003 Artemis Award in the area of Entrepreneurial Leadership from the Euro-American Women's Council. (back to top)
Chairman & CEO
Liberty Power David Hernandez co-founded Liberty Power in 2001 with other energy, telecommunications, and financial services professionals. Three years later, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company supplies energy to business and government entities ranging from New York Life and JCPenney to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Hernandez is an active member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He was awarded the 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award by New York University's Association of Hispanic and Black Business School Students. (back to top)
President & CEO
John Keeler & Co. Inc. A lifelong entrepreneur, John Keeler ran a used-book business at the age of 10. He entered the crabmeat industry in 1992 by helping his father's business with sales and marketing. Three years later he launched John Keeler & Co. Inc., which imports blue crab from Asia and distributes it in the United States. Mr. Keeler says the company is the second largest in the industry, and he has been nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. (back to top)
Chairwoman & Founder
CSA Marketing Inc. Martha Mestril is the founder of CSA Marketing Inc., a full-service marketing and promotions agency that specializes in general and niche markets for consumer packaged goods. Ms. Mestril began in her field as a cheese merchandiser, and later joined Johnson & Johnson's sales force, where she was promoted to regional supervisor. After retiring from Johnson & Johnson in 1992, the company hired her as a consultant to handle Hispanic merchandising and promotions in the Southeastern United States. Now, her family-owned company has offices in cities from New York and Chicago to Los Angeles, and its clients include Procter & Gamble, Adams USA, Bayer, Neutrogena, and Wal-Mart. (back to top)
Olé Mexican Foods Inc. In 1987, Veronica Moreno, a native of Morelos, Coahuila, Mexico, was making tortillas on a street corner. Today, with her husband, Eduardo Moreno, she has created one of the largest tortilla manufacturers and food distributors in the United States. Initially, the Morenos' company, Olé Mexican Foods Inc., provided authentic, Mexican-style tortillas for the growing Hispanic community in Atlanta, Georgia. From first-year sales of $10,000, Olé has grown to include sales branches in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas. Ms. Moreno oversees and directs the overall management, sales, product development, marketing, and finance aspects of the company. (back to top)
GLORIA W. PEÑA
President & CEO
Innovations Group Inc. Gloria Peña got her first contract within a week of launching Career Innovations (now Innovations Group Inc.) in 1992. That contract, for job-placement services for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, was followed shortly by more contracts, and within six months Ms. Peña started to hire employees. Since then, Innovations Group has become a prime contractor for the federal Department of Energy, specializing in human resources and project management. Ms. Peña handles the company's policies, procedures, and strategic direction, while her husband, Arthur F. Whipple, runs the financial end. (back to top)
Inside the EOY 2004: •Hispanic Business CEO Roundtable List of Participants •2004 EOY Keynote Address: Financing the Next Demographic Wave •EOY Winners, Past and Present