In January 1979, the first Hispanic Business newsletter appeared. Bonnie handled accounting and circulation; I handled everything else. Bonnie set up the original chart of accounts and circulation codes, and managed finances. That was pretty much it for the first few years, when hardly anyone noticed us. At the end of the third year, Bonnie said the business had to leave the house. Bonnie would have made an excellent venture capitalist! Hispanic Business was a home-grown, low-profile product for about 10 years. By the end of the first year, I was driving a new Chevrolet Blazer -- a killer mahagony-colored SUV that we used to transport product from the printer to the postal service. I loved every minute.
But let's fast-forward to the question of what has Hispanic Business, the brand, accomplished in the past quarter century in addition to market traction? I think there are at least two fundamentals: first and foremost has been our introduction to Hispanic media consumers an understanding of markets -- their make-up and how they function. A second contribution of Hispanic Business magazine has been more dramatic: reporting on how Hispanic entrepreneurs can operate successfully in highly competitive, and increasingly complex, market environments. Some of those early business professionals and entrepreneurs are here with us tonight; leaders such as Daisy Exposito, Linda and Bob Alvarado, Sal Gomez, and Luis Nogales.
In this evening's Hispanic Business visual presentation, you heard the testimonials of the Puente family from Fort Worth, Texas, and you can read their story in the June issue of the magazine. Growing up in South Texas in the 1940s and 1950s, I recall many small businesses owned by Hispanics -- such as the corner grocery store or bakery. But back then, Hispanics did not own auto dealerships, at least not in the part of Texas that I lived in. Back then, Hispanics did not participate as owners in large commercial franchising networks such as McDonald's. Back then, Hispanics were not consumers of complex insurance packages such as those sold by Liberty Mutual. Back then, by and large, our most important market involvement occurred at the tail-end of local labor markets.
Starting in the 1980s and 1990s, Hispanic Business was reporting on companies engaged in market space beyond the local levels. In the early years, our reporting mainly focused on the highly complex federal markets; many of the larger firms that I first contacted were 8(a) firms competing for federal contracts. Gradually, our attention shifted toward private markets in the auto, construction, service, and manufacturing sectors. Publication of the Hispanic Business 400 in 1983 was a seminal event, and a gargantuan research task accomplished by a research staff of just one or two people.
Another key Hispanic Business contribution over the years, has been the magazine's emphasis on practical, quantifiable information. In the 1970s, while the nation was gearing up to transition to the Information Age, Hispanics still suffered from a significant public-information gap. We still do. A key assumption of Hispanic Business was that practical, quantifiable information would empower readers to greater competitive effectiveness. We could think strategically and measure our progress. We also did not report exclusively on entrepreneurs, but business professionals joining the corporate ranks as well. The white mail that reached us in the early years confirmed that our emphasis on objectivity was on the right track. And so, research and numbers became the order of the day, developing among our readers a passion for metrics.
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